Yankees general manager Brian Cashman picked an interesting time to mock the Boston Red Sox this past week by saying they are only beating inferior teams while struggling to beat the Yankees. This was when he was asked the other day about the excellent season by the Red Sox.
It was interesting because he said this during the week his team was playing the AL East division-leading Red Sox at Fenway Park. This would certainly rile up Red Sox fans and the Red Sox, especially since the Yankees won only one game at Fenway this season and their four out of five wins against their rivals came at Yankee Stadium.
Either Cashman was raising the ante for the Yankees and Red Sox or he wanted to get into the Red Sox heads by mocking their accomplishments or maybe both. No matter the motivation, it was stupid, especially when an official of a Major League Baseball team is talking about the other team.
He should be wearing a dunce cap now after the Red Sox outclassed, outplayed and outmanaged the Yankees in all four games this weekend, which is why his team was swept at Fenway Park this weekend.
The Yankees had their coup de’ grace moment Sunday night when they took a 5-4 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park after blowing a 4-1 lead in the ninth inning, which Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman walked Sandy Leon, MVP candidate Mookie Betts and Steve Pearce (Jackie Bradley Jr. pinch-ran for him at first) and then gave up a two-out bases-loaded single to MVP favorite J.D. Martinez that would score Leon and Betts, cutting the Red Sox deficit to 4-3. Then in an attempt to get Xander Bogaerts out at first to end the game, Miguel Andujar’s throwing error to first helped Bradley score as Pearce’s pinch-runner that would tie the game at 4.
The Red Sox eventually won the game in the tenth inning when Andrew Benintendi hit a two-out RBI single off Jonathan Holder that would break the 4-4 tie.
Even if the Yankees won this game, it would feel meaningless. The Red Sox sent a message that the Yankees were not in their league in the first three games of the series. The finale represented the Yankees being Boston Massacred by their hated rival.
Forget about winning the AL East now. That ship sailed after the Yankees are now 9 ½ games back of first place Red Sox. Yes, there are two months to go. Yes, teams have blown big leads before like the 2007 Mets for example. Yes, the Yankees have a cupcake schedule. But it’s hard to believe this Red Sox team will blow it as they are on a mission to win a championship based on their performance this season. Also, the Yankees are not as good as their fans make them out to be.
It was odd the Yankees never acknowledged they played horrible this weekend. Maybe they were stunned to admit it or embarrassed to even say the Red Sox played like the better team.
For Yankees manager Aaron Boone to say his team is too good to let this weekend define them, it seemed like a manager that was oblivious and out-of-touch. If the Yankees lost those close games and played well, it would have made sense for him to say that. When the team has gotten outclassed on the road after having dreams of cutting their division deficit, a honest appraisal of his team was better served by their manager rather than shrugging it off.
A little anger should be in order. This team is too nice and passive. The Red Sox played with emotion this weekend by proving their point to the Yankees. They did not like what Luis Severino did in pitching high and tight at Betts on his first pitch of the game, and they responded by scoring three runs in the first inning, including a two-run home run by Pearce. They also did it again Sunday night by scoring three runs to tie the game in the ninth inning in another response to the Yankees.
Even keel in a long season can be a good thing, but at what cost? This team does not play with a sense of urgency. They are a reflection of Boone’s personality, which is not being too high and too low. This weekend should have been a weekend for the Yankees to prove their point, but instead, it raised so many issues about them being a championship team.
It would have been nice if one of the Yankees young stars such as Gleyber Torres or Andujar express anger. In fact, any Yankee expressing disapproval of their play would be unacceptable. The Yankees of the 90s hated losing, and they were more than happy to admit it. This version of the Yankees seemed to have this attitude of we’ll get em tomorrow, which explains why there was no sense of urgency this entire weekend. That’s the type of attitude that does not foster a championship environment.
It isn’t just the lack of intangibles that should give pause about this Yankees team. The Yankees starting rotation leaves so much to be desired outside of Masahiro Tanaka, and their bullpen has become easy to hit as a result of them being overused. Also, their young stars have showed their inability to step up in the clutch all season long.
Boone’s managing is a question mark such as him taking CC Sabathia out after 77 pitches in the third inning and leaving the struggling Holder in the fourth inning that would put Thursday night’s game out of reach for the Yankees. On Sunday night, he inexplicably had Holder facing Benintendi with two outs in the tenth inning rather than walk him and take his chance with Bradley to get the last out. Also, why didn’t he use Chapman Friday or Saturday just so he could avoid being rusty on Sunday? These managing decisions can become a problem come October.
This weekend was an eye-opener for the Yankees. It revealed the Yankees are not good enough to overtake the Red Sox in the AL East. It also revealed this team does not have the ingredients to be a championship team.
Spare me about the injuries of Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge. The Red Sox have not had Dustin Pedroia, Rafael Devers, Eduardo Rodriguez and Chris Sale for this series. This speaks more about the depth of the Red Sox right there, which is another reason why they are a better team than the Yankees.
Instead of making a statement to the Red Sox and baseball this weekend, the Yankees reinforced this belief they don’t have the goods to be a championship team.