I have a headache. Above my left eye, and that eye is twitching or spasming. I’m not sure which because I’m unsure of the difference. (A quick Google search tells me a twitch is a form of a spasm.)
I woke up this morning after what seemed like minutes of sleep to feed a soon-to-be four-month-old and then the soon-to-be two-year-old woke up. Before 7 a.m. I had changed a pair of diapers full of poop, listened to the “Wheels on the Bus” roughly 21 times (in a row) and had already watched the trifecta of the “Circle of Life,” “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King,” and “Hakuna Matata” about 14 times.
I’m not complaining. I chose this. I chose to stay up to watch the Yankees play in Seattle at a 10:11 p.m. start time. I chose to stay up as the game went to the 10th inning then the 11th then the 12th then the 13th. I voluntarily kept watching, doubling down on poor decision after poor decision all the way until the Mariners walked off with a 1-0 win at 2:18 a.m.
It was a choice I regretted in the moment and regret even more now as I write this with a Seattle-esque marine layer serving as brain fog. All while not being able to get Pumbaa yelling, “WHEN I WAS A YOUNG WARTHOGGG!” out of my head.
It was the worst loss of the season for the Yankees, and it won’t be topped. Yes, worse than getting walk-off walked on in Baltimore. Yes, worse than all the late blown leads to the last-place Red Sox. Yes, worse than Clay Holmes’ meltdown against the Reds. Yes, worse than all five of the losses to the Astros.
Tuesday’s loss had something for everyone worried about the Yankees.
Worried about the offense? It had yet another disappearing act from the offense. A lineup that can’t come close to hitting starting pitching they will face in October after being shut out just three games prior.
Worried about the team’s baserunning and poor Baseball IQ? It had disastrous, unfathomable baserunning decisions as the Yankees ran into out after out.
Worried about the manager? (How could you not be?) It had bad management and horrible in-game calls like the ill-attempted double steal in the 10th.
The team’s pitching, which has been the team’s least trustworthy component for weeks now was the one aspect of the team that performed well, as a gem from Gerrit Cole was wasted as were five scoreless innings of relief before the 13th.
The offense produced three hits in the game. Three hits in 13 innings. Three singles in 41 plate appearances. It was a disgraceful, non-competitive performance from an offense that seems to have at least one of those a week, if not two. And of course it was Luis Castillo who shut down the Yankees for the third time in a month and twice in a week. It had to be the pitcher the Yankees needed to get, but chose not to, once again choosing a less expensive, second-tier option.
On the bases, Aaron Judge was thrown out trying to steal in the seventh. With runners on first and second and no outs in the 10th, Aaron Boone called for a double steal with Andrew Benintendi at second and Tim LoCastro at first. Benintendi took off too early and got caught in a rundown. In the 11th, with a runner on second and no outs, Aaron Hicks hit a line drive at the second baseman. Miguel Andujar took off too early for third and was doubled off second. In the 12th, with a runner on second and no outs, Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit a ball back to the mound, Jose Trevino was too far off second and got caught in a rundown. While Trevino was in the rundown, Kiner-Falefa took off for second, so that the Yankees would have a runner in scoring position with one out once Trevino was tagged. Trevino was tagged immediately and Kiner-Falefa then got caught in a rundown of his own and ran out of the baseline for the second out on the play. After the game, Boone said, “I don’t want us to lose our aggression on the bases.” You might want to lose that aggression, Booney.
The icing on the shit cake that was Tuesday night into Wednesday morning is that the Yankees no longer hold the 1-seed in the American League. The Yankees had a nine-game lead for home-field advantage throughout the AL playoffs back on June 19 and now they are 2-seed in the AL with the Astros passing them in the standings. So in a potential ALCS between the two teams, Games 1, 2, 6 and 7 will be played in Houston, just like they were in the 2017 ALCS and the 2019 ALCS. I wonder how the 2022 ALCS will play out if the standings hold and they do meet again.
Thinking about the Yankees in the ALCS right now seems foolish. Yes, they are going to win the division. Yes, they are going to have a bye into the ALDS. Yes, they will only need to win one series to get into the ALCS. But with the team going 22-24 over the last seven-plus weeks, and playing as poorly as they have of late, I don’t know how anyone could feel good about them. Maybe Boone can hold another team meeting since the one he held at the beginning of this week has worked out so well.
My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is now available as an ebook!