Yankees Thoughts: Bummer in Baltimore

The Yankees lost to the Orioles 2-0 on Monday. It was the fifth time the Yankees were shut out in 30 games this season.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.

1. The Yankees began the most important series of the season to date — a four-game series against the Orioles — with a 2-0 loss.

“They’re legit,” Clarke Schmidt of the Orioles said after the game.

Yeah, no shit. They only won 101 games last year, finishing 19 games ahead of the Yankees, have the best offense in the AL this year and now have a one-game lead in the AL East.

2. “When you face them and then you face other teams, you really kind of feel it,” Schmidt said. “They really hit mistakes.”

Schmidt made his only mistake of the game to the first batter he faced. With a 2-2 count against Gunnar Henderson, Schmidt was unable to put the lefty away as Henderson fouled off two two-strike pitches and then hammered a long home run to right field. Schmidt’s career issue of being unable to put away lefties found its way into the first batter of the game and it seemed like an ominous sign.

3. But it wasn’t. The Yankees lost the game, but it wasn’t because of Schmidt. He ended up going 5 2/3 innings while allowing just the one run from the Henderson home run. To me, it was the best start of Schmidt’s career, considering the lineup and the ballpark.

The Yankees’ offense is what lost them the game, which has been the case in all but two of their losses this season (April 14 at Cleveland and April 26 at Milwaukee). The offense was shut out for a fifth time in 30 games.

4. “I haven’t really thought much of it,” Aaron Judge said of the shutouts. “Things like that happen.”

Things like that do happen, but for these Yankees, they happen way more than they should. To put into perspective how truly awful it is to be shut out five times in 30 games, here is the game number when the fifth shutout of the season happened for the Yankees in the other five full seasons in the Aaron Boone era.

2023: 103
2022: 72
2021: 90
2019: Only two shutouts
2018: Only three shutouts

The 2023 offense was as bad as it gets in terms of Yankees’ offenses and that team didn’t get shut out for a fifth time for another 73 games. The 2018 and 2019 offenses were so good they were only shut out three and two times respectively. (It’s hard not to think the Yankees’ best chance at winning it all with this group, or what’s left of this group, was 2017-19.)

“We’ve had some of those nights where we’ve gotten shut out when we’ve had a lot of traffic,” Boone said. “We didn’t come up with a big hit, and they kept us in the ballpark.”

It’s really not surprising when the Yankees get shut out because the 2023 Yankees Plus Juan Soto don’t score and don’t win when Soto doesn’t hit. These Yankees go as Soto goes, and Soto only went 1-for-4 with a single on Monday. Now that single unfortunately went off the high right-field wall at Camden Yards, but that’s baseball, right?

5. After Schmidt, Dennis Santana threw 1 1/3 perfect innings, Caleb Ferguson got two outs and Clay Holmes got an out.

As I wrote on Saturday

The best part is Holmes probably won’t be needed for a few days. He may not be needed for a week. If Boone wants to play the what-if game, let’s play it. He thinks he made need Holmes for an inning on Saturday, so he wasn’t going to push him for a second inning on Friday. Well, what if Holmes isn’t need on Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday, or Tuesday? Then he’ll be used in a game on Wednesday no matter what the score is to get him work. 

Holmes wasn’t needed again on Monday, but Boone went to him. Apparently, having Holmes get an out in the eighth inning of a game the Yankees are trailing is more important than Holmes closing out a game the Yankees are winning.

If the Yankees had tied the game in the ninth, Holmes was going to pitch the ninth and be used for four outs. Which means, Boone is OK with Holmes pitching in multiple innings in a game the Yankees are losing and then tied in rather than pitching multiple innings in a game the Yankees are tied and then winning.

6. Anthony Volpe had another poor night at the plate (0-for-4 with a walk) and made an extremely costly error in the field, booting an inning-ending ground ball in the eighth that increased the Orioles’ lead from 1-0 to 2-0. Once the deficit went from one run to two runs with the bottom of the order due up (Gleyber Torres, Oswaldo Cabrera and Trent Grisham) it was hard to envision the Yankees coming back. And they didn’t.

7. Grayson Rodriguez got lit up in his previous start by the lowly Angels (4.1, 11 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 1 HR), so of course he was awesome against the Yankees (5.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 3 K). The Yankees had some bad luck on their side in the game with booted balls by the Orioles going right to other fielders, rockets hit right at fielders, the called third strike on Anthony Rizzo, the Soto “single” and the play where Giancarlo Stanton had to hold up on a base hit to the outfield before getting thrown out at second.

8. Michael Kay is always quick to defend Stanton and his speed on the bases saying he’s not “loafing” and that that’s how fast he can go. That’s not as fast as Stanton can run. That’s as fast as Stanton can run without getting injured. It’s not running. It’s jogging. It may not even be jogging. It’s the type of speed a valet attendant uses to go get your car. Unfortunately, Stanton isn’t going to get faster, only slower, which is hard to believe.

9. It’s hard to believe the Yankees only struck out three times in the game and not only lost, but were shut out, stranding all 10 baserunners they had. It’s hard to believe this offense scored 15 runs in back-to-back games over the weekend (even if some of those runs came against position players pitching).  It’s even harder to believe how much the offense missed Alex Verdugo’s bat in the lineup.

Verdugo has become the team’s second-best hitter through the first month of the season, behind Soto. Is anyone surprised the two best hitters on the team through the first month are two players the Yankees didn’t draft or develop and have had the least to do with the major-league success?

10. “Guys were taking good swings all night,” Judge said. “We just couldn’t get them to fall.”

The Yankees will need them to start falling over the next three days. The Yankees are 19-3 when they score three runs in a game. That’s all that’s needed: three runs! At worst, the Yankees need to split this series with the Orioles, and to do that, they will now need to win two of the next three. They will need to more offensively than they did on Monday, which was nothing … again.