Even with six players on the COVID-19 injured list, a handful of new players on the roster and a season slipping away, Gerrit Cole said the Yankees’ attitude heading into Friday night’s game against the Red Sox was “business as usual.”
The Yankees then went out and played like it, losing another game to Boston, 4-0, in The Bronx.
If you’re keeping score, they’re down six players due to COVID-19, have lost all seven games against the Red Sox and are nine games back of Boston in the AL East, in fourth place. And they’re just two games over .500 (46-44).
Playing without Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela after they were placed on the COVID-19 IL Friday, the Yankees used a ragtag lineup to start the second half of the season, and it was about as productive as their regular lineup had been in the first half.
“We’re in a hole,’’ manager Aaron Boone said after the latest defeat. “We’ve got to play really good baseball to get back into this. We’ve got to have that focus walking into the ballpark every day. Rinse and repeat.”
Friday presented a different challenge, as the Yankees had to start Chris Gittens and Trey Amburgey, who was making his MLB debut.
After Gittens walked with two outs in the seventh and the Yankees tried to get back in the game, they used Greg Allen and Hoy Jun Park — who was also making his MLB debut — as pinch-hitters.
Allen came up with a single, but Park grounded out.
Jordan Montgomery started strong, needing just eight pitches to get through a perfect first inning.
But after Giancarlo Stanton hit into a double play in the bottom of the first, Montgomery opened the second by walking Xander Bogaerts and giving up a double by Rafael Devers, which Brett Gardner couldn’t run down in left-center.
Bogaerts scored on a groundout to short by Hunter Renfroe. After Christian Vazquez flied to the warning track in left, Christian Arroyo homered to right-center to make it 3-0.
That resulted in a chorus of boos from the crowd as Montgomery needed 36 pitches to get out of the inning.
With their offense in shambles, it was not the start to the game the Yankees were looking for from Montgomery, though the lefty didn’t give up another hit in the six-inning outing.
Their biggest issue came on offense, as they were shut down by left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez, who tossed 5 ²/₃ scoreless innings.
After DJ LeMahieu’s leadoff single in the first, the Yankees didn’t get another hit until Rougned Odor doubled with two outs in the sixth to end Rodriguez’s night.
The Yankees managed their first threat against Rodriguez with two outs in the fifth.
Gittens walked and Amburgey grounded to third, but Bobby Dalbec couldn’t handle Devers’ throw and was charged with an error.
With runners on the corners, Tim Locastro struck out to end the inning.
The Yankees managed just three hits, and were shut out for the second time in five games.
“It’s hard,’’ Montgomery said. “We lose Judge, we lose Gio. We come back from the All-Star break after a pretty good run in Seattle and Houston. To lose those bats is tough. We have to go out there, keep playing hard and rebound as best we can.”
Regardless of who is — or isn’t — in the lineup, Boone knows time is of the essence.
“We’ve got to find a way,’’ Boone said. “Tonight starts with the offense. We’ve got to be able to mount something to give ourselves an opportunity.”
Instead, the Yankees fell further behind in the division and certainly didn’t look like a team that’s poised to make a run. That’s especially true with six of their next eight games scheduled against the Red Sox, who had lost four of five heading into the break, but played like a first-place team on Friday.