The Yankees scored just six runs in the three games against Tampa Bay, but more alarming, have repeatedly failed to come up with key hits in clutch situations. In Wednesday’s 6-1 loss, the Yankees went 0 for 9 with runners in scoring position. On Thursday, they were 1 for 11. And even in Tuesday’s 4-1 win, they were just 2 for 8.
The failure to capitalize in the ninth inning demonstrated an even more disturbing weakness of the Yankees’ offense: its inability to score with the bases loaded. Coming into the game, the Yankees ranked 13th out of 15 A.L. teams in batting average in a situation that should favor the hitters, batting just .223 with bases loaded.
“Yeah, it’s disappointing,” Boone said. “When you’re not scoring runs in bunches or hitting the ball out of the ballpark, you’ve got to take advantage of those. That one got away from us, so it’s frustrating.”
Before their ninth-inning threat, the Yankees mounted a two-out, eighth-inning rally that began with a throwing error that put Aaron Hicks on second. (The Yankees, short of outfielders, had a brief scare when Hicks rolled his ankle on the play, but he remained in the game.) Stanton followed with an opposite-field drive that was originally ruled a home run by the first-base umpire, Greg Gibson.
Replays showed the ball had struck the yellow foul stripe about halfway up the right-field wall, and after a conference, the umpires allowed Hicks to score the Yankees’ run and ruled Stanton’s hit a double. Boone argued that Stanton should have been given a triple, but it turned out to be a moot point when the next hitter, Miguel Andujar, grounded out to end the inning.
“I don’t know what was going on there,” said Stanton, who had two doubles in the game and has been the Yankees’ most consistent hitter lately. “It went from fair to home run to foul, and then we had to stop to do a replay.”
Unfortunately for the Yankees, the only replay that mattered was their recurring failure to come up with a timely hit.