Yankees Thoughts: Wasted Opportunity Against White Sox

The Yankees arrived in Chicago desperately needing to stack wins. With three games against the majors’ fourth-worst team, the Yankees opened their series with the White Sox with another loss.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.

1. On Sunday, Carlos Rodon was removed from the Yankees’ eventual loss to the Astros with a hamstring injury. After giving up five runs in 2 2/3 innings Rodon was pulled when he couldn’t convince Aaron Boone and the training staff to let him continue.

“In this moment I feel normal,” Rodon said after Sunday’s game. “I feel confident that everything is OK … (Going on the injured list) is not what I’m thinking … In this moment I feel pretty confident that I should be able to pitch.”

In typical Rodon and Yankees fashion, he wasn’t “normal” and he’s not “able to pitch.” A day after making those claims, Rodon was placed on the IL with a hamstring strain.

2. It’s hard to like Rodon. I actually like both Aaron Hicks and Josh Donaldson more than Rodon. Rodon has made six starts in four-and-a-half months as a Yankee and has lost five of them. He has never completed six innings as a Yankee and hasn’t even been able to complete 4 2/3 innings in three of his six outings. Rodon hasn’t pitched because of various injuries, and when he has pitched he has sucked. Add in the nearly $800,000 he “earns” every five days whether he pitches or not and his kiss blowing in Anaheim, and I don’t know how anyone could like him. There’s also his cocky, arrogant quote from spring training when it was announced he would start the season on the IL.

3. “I’m not here to pitch until the All-Star break,” Rodon said on March 9. “I’m here to pitch well into October. If this was down the stretch, yeah, I would be going for sure. If it’s October 5 or the ALDS, I’m taking the ball.”

Well, it’s “down the stretch” and Rodon isn’t pitching because of a new and different injury. As for pitching on “October 5 or the ALDS” Rodon won’t have to worry about either of those because the Yankees won’t be playing baseball on October 5 and they certainly aren’t going to the ALDS. The last game of the regular season will be the last game of the Yankees’ season.

4. After losing to the White Sox 5-1 on Monday night in Chicago, the Yankees are now 5 1/2 games out of a playoff spot. The idea “It’s in front of us” like Boone keeps reiterating and Rodon echoed last week in talking to the media, is one more game in the standings from being untrue. The Yankees have six games remaining against the Blue Jays (who won again on Monday), the team they trail by 5 1/2 games. Once the Yankees’ deficit to the Blue Jays is higher than the amount of games left between the two teams, the Yankees will no longer control their own destiny. That could happen as early as Tuesday night.

5. After Sunday’s loss to the Astros, Harrison Bader gave the most tone-deaf postgame interview imaginable. Asked if the Yankees missed an opportunity to win a four-game series against the Astros, he said, “Actually, I feel the complete opposite.” Asked if he’s concerned with how many games the Yankees are out from a playoff spot, he said, “No concern at all.” One day and one game later, the Yankees are another game out of a playoff spot. I wonder if Bader is concerned now. I doubt it.

I doubt it because the manager still isn’t concerned. Well, he’s concerned, just not with wins and losses or the standings or if Giancarlo Stanton cares even a little bit about running the bases with even the smallest amount of effort. Boone is concerned with the umpires and balls and strikes.

6. Home plate umpire Laz Diaz was inconsistent on Monday in Chicago, and yet, the White Sox had no problem touching up likely Cy Young winner Gerrit Cole for four runs and Tommy Kahnle for a fifth. That didn’t stop Boone from performing the most ridiculous, outrageous, over-the-top tirade on the field in protest of Diaz’s strike zone. It made me uncomfortable to watch Boone give a dramatic, sarcastic impression of Diaz’s emphatic strikeout call, and it made me embarrassed to be a fan of a once-proud franchise that has resorted to blaming the umpires for losses.

7. “I heard Anthony’s was a strike maybe,” Boone sheepishly admitted after the game, implying Diaz was to ring Volpe up.

Not “maybe.” It was a strike. Every pitch in Volpe’s at-bat that sent Boone over the edge was in the zone. Yes, it’s Diaz’s fault the Yankees are 5 1/2 games out of the playoffs and 47-52 against teams not named the A’s or Royals. It’s Diaz’s fault the Yankees drew seven walks in the first four innings against Dylan Cease and didn’t score any of them. It’s Diaz’s fault the Yankees had one extra-base hit on Monday and loaded the bases three times in the game, scoring just one run. It can’t possibly be anyone employed by or playing for the Yankees’ fault that they lost another game, lost another game in the standings and lost another game to a team with nothing to play for.

8. The White Sox are an organizational mess, even more than the Yankees. They are 22 games under .500. A week ago they officially gave up and traded away important roster pieces at the deadline. Their starting catcher reportedly slapped their starting shortstop during this season. On Saturday, that starting shortstop ignited a bench-clearing brawl with the Guardians. On Sunday, newest Yankee Kenyan Middleton gave an interview in which he gave insight into the disfunction within the White Sox’ clubhouse, dugout and bullpen, and former White Sox and newest Dodger Lance Lynn confirmed Middleton’s claims on Monday. The White Sox have the fourth-worst record in Major League Baseball and are on pace to lose 97 games. And yet, the Yankees not only lost to them on Monday, but are 1-3 against them this season.

9. It was the Yankees’ second straight loss. They have lost six of nine and are back in the basement of the AL East. They need a lengthy winning streak to gain ground on the Blue Jays, and a three-game series against the White Sox was a perfect opportunity to begin that hypothetical winning streak. Instead, they wasted another Gerrit Cole start and stranded 13 baserunners.

This was supposed to be the “break” in the schedule sandwiched between having to play the Orioles, Rays, Astros and then the the Marlins, Braves and Red Sox. This was supposed to be when the Yankees started their late-season run to a postseason berth. It ended up just being another inexcusable loss in a long list of those types of losses. The Yankees are now 50-50 in their last 100 games and 99-101 in their last 200 games.

10. Boone has never been worried about the Yankees’ place in the standings. A week ago, it was Rodon who told the media he wasn’t nervous by the Yankees not holding a playoff spot. On Sunday, it was Bader who said he wasn’t concerned. On Monday, Cole took the baton.

“It’s doable,” Cole said when asked about being 5 1/2 games back with 49 games left to play. “Mountains are different sizes. The goal is just to get to the top.”

The Yankees now have a 10.7 percent chance of climbing the mountain and reaching the postseason. Don’t be surprised if the top of the mountain and the postseason get a little farther away after Tuesday’s game.

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