SEATTLE — A five-game losing streak this season prompted New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone to gather his players at the visiting clubhouse at T-Mobile Park to remind them who they are: the team that won the first half of the season as the best in baseball.
“We got together today and talked and talked. Just more dust settling from the trade deadline, people coming and going a bit wanted to get the group together and talk to them, so I did that,” Boone said ahead of Monday night’s game against the Seattle Mariners. “Just [wanted] to remind them that we have everything in this room to get through this and achieve the goal of becoming a champion – that is and will always be the focus.
His words seemed to have the intended effect as the Yankees broke out of their trough with a 9-4 win over the Mariners, one that included Aaron Judge’s MLB-leading 44th home run.
When the Yankees came into play Monday night, they were down 5-0 since the Aug. 2 close when they dealt out a clubhouse favorite in Jordan Montgomery as well as a struggling Joey Gallo and smashed in left fielder Andrew Benintendi. coveted starting pitcher Frankie Montas and relievers Lou Trivino and Scott Effross.
“I feel like they’re in a good place with that,” Boone said of the clubhouse environment after the meeting. “Knowing we’re playing against good teams right now and they’re playing for a lot and we’re often going to do their best, we have to go out there and achieve that.”
He added: “I just think we’re feeling a little defeated here. As I said, even when things are going really well, winning games never comes naturally. It’s not easy to win games in this league. “
After New York was defeated by St. Louis, the Cardinals’ first sweep against the Yankees in franchise history, its lead over the AL East shrank to 9.5 games — the first time the Yankees have won the division since mid no longer quoted in double digits -June.
The Yankees’ five-game losing streak was the longest for the club since seven straight losses in mid-September last year.
Before this year’s All-Star break, the Yankees were playing with 119 wins and were considered one of the few major league clubs without any major weaknesses or shortcomings. Her pitching had also been without a light; On July 9, the Yankees were leading 61-0 in the eighth inning or later, their longest early-season streak in franchise history.
Since then? They’re 10-4 if they lead in the eighth inning or later.
After one of the best starts in franchise history — one that included an 11-game winning streak and comparisons to the historic 1998 superteam — the Yankees looked 19-21 in their last 40 games.
Still, Boone says he didn’t sense any trust issues from his players.
“That overconfidence is always a little fickle in a player. It’s a game of ups and downs and balancing things like that,” he said. “You always deal with individuals on this frontline throughout the year. They always work with guys on an individual basis to put them in a good place. But no, overall as a group I feel like we know where we’re going, we know what we have to do. I don’t feel like that has changed.
It was also important for Boone to remind his players that the Yankees are hopeful of the return of a few key hitters in Anthony Rizzo (stiff lower back) and Giancarlo Stanton (left Achilles tendonitis), with pitching help later in the arms of Luis Severino arrives (right lat strain), Miguel Castro (right shoulder strain) and Zack Britton (UCL surgery).
That being said, it’s not all good news for the Yankees on the injury front, as they lost hitter-designate Matt Carpenter – who had a resurgent season at the age of 36 – to a broken left foot in the first inning Monday.
“I think we did everything from the starting rotation to the bullpen, offense, defense to base running,” Boone said, recalling the Yankees’ brilliant start. “I think our run scoring is still consistent with what we did. I feel like we caught the ball really well. We’ve had a few outings where we struggled a bit up the hill. We simply have to achieve this consistency in all facets. And we definitely can.”