The Yankees weren’t scoring many runs before Aaron Judge strained his hip — and things grew worse over the weekend when the right fielder could only watch.
Since Judge was pulled in the fourth inning of Thursday night’s series-opening win over the Texas Rangers, the Yankees have scored five runs in 34 innings and dropped three in a row.
Sure, good starting pitching had a lot to do with the Yanks scoring only eight runs in a four-game series that ended with Sunday’s 15-2 blowout loss. Jacob deGrom was fantastic before leaving Friday night’s 5-2 Rangers win in the fourth inning with a forearm strain. Former Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi was better Saturday night, tossing a three-hit, complete-game shutout in a 2-0 victory. And Martin Perez was tough while holding the Yankees to one run over six innings in Sunday’s lopsided embarrassment.
The Yankees’ watered-down lineup obviously played a big part of it, too. Besides not having Judge, three regulars have been on the injured list for most or all of the season — center fielder Harrison Bader (all 29 games), third baseman Josh Donaldson (the last 23) and outfielder and designated hitter Giancarlo Stanton (the last 14).
“There are no excuses over here,” catcher Kyle Higashioka said.
That’s nice to hear, words won’t stop the bleeding. Here are some of the bloody offense numbers:
— The Yankees have scored three or fewer runs in 13 of their last 17 games.
—Their .226 team batting average ranks 12th among 15 AL clubs.
— They’re 11th in the league in runs with 116 in 29 games, an average of 4.0 per game.
— They’re 10th in OPS, 10th in hitting with runners in scoring position and 11th in on-base percentage.
All of that has contributed to the Yankees ending April with a 15-14 record that has them tied with the Red Sox for last in the AL East — eight games behind the first-place Tampa Bay Rays.
What can be done — aside from waiting for players to get healthy and hope they’re the cure all?
“Prepare and compete,” Boone said. “We’re obviously a little up against it right now, but we’ve got to keep on preparing and competing and realize we’re the ones that’s got to dig ourselves out of this a little bit.”
This is more than the Yankees’ missing hitters.
Anthony Rizzo (.282) and Judge (.261) are the only active players with respectable batting averages. The Yanks are getting some production from their catchers, a 14 combined RBI in 29 games from Jose Trevino (eight) and Higashioka (six), but everyone else is struggling,
Two-time batting champ DJ LeMahieu supposedly is healthy, but he’s hitting just .250, and Gleyber Torres is down to .245 after being in the high .300s after two weeks of the season. The Yankees aren’t getting much from the youngsters, either, with Anthony Volpe batting .217, Oswaldo Cabrera hitting .200, and Oswald Peraza at .172.
Boone insisted the weak lineup “did have some good at-bats” while scoring two runs on eight hits and two walks. “But we’ve got to find a way while we’re missing some pieces to scratch out some runs,” he added.
Boone believes it’ll help if hitters are going to the plate with an aggressive approach. That’s something that’s occurring sometimes but not always, he said.
“We want to make sure we have that planned conviction each and every day from ourselves as a team, but also make sure individuals aren’t going up to bat careful,” Boone said. “It’s been a little up and down with that. We’ve got to keep after that.”
Boone found a silver lining in Sunday’s shellacking, but it came with two outs and nobody on in the ninth inning. The Yankees loaded the bases on a single, walk and single, and then scored on Higashioka’s bases-loaded walk. This run wasn’t meaningless to Boone because four good at-bats in a row made it happen.
Boone obviously was searching for something positive to say.
“I thought we finished well,” he said. “It’s easy to mail that in. I thought the at-bats were there at the very end. I liked some of the effort I saw when you’re up against it. That’s what we’ve got to do.
“When you’re not overly offensive, you’ve got to make sure you control that level of compete. We’re doing that and reminding these guys of that. And we’ve got to be the ones to turn it around.”