Although the Yankees were 2-7 over the previous nine games before facing the Seattle Mariners yesterday (Wednesday) afternoon on the road, the last game of a three-game series, they still had a comfortable 10.5 lead over the second place Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East and at 71-40 tied with the Houston Astros for the best record in the AL.
Still, there is a sense of panic if not deep concern that now permeates the Yankees fan base because they are no longer the dominant ball club that was steamrolling all comers––with the exception of the Astros––from the start of the season until the beginning of July. (The Yankees concluded their head-to-head games this season against the Astros 5-2). But chinks in their armor began to be exposed heading into the All-Star break despite pounding the Boston Red Sox 14-1 on July 16 and 13-2 the following day.
Those beatdowns somewhat masked that they were 3-5 over an eight game stretch immediately before the break began. But it became evident the Yankees had lost their mojo when they dropped five of their first seven games coming out of the short All-Star hiatus, including going 0-4 in games against the Astros and Mets. A five game losing streak from August 2 through August 9, first losing two out of three at home versus the Mariners followed by getting swept three games by the St. Louis Cardinals on the road confirmed the Yankees were vulnerable.
Acquiring outfielder Andrew Benintendi (Kansas City Royals), starting pitcher Frankie Montas and reliever Lou Trevino from the Oakland A’s prior to the Major League Baseball trade deadline hasn’t stemmed the Yankees’ slippage. Not having outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (24 homers) in the lineup has been a factor. He was placed on the 10-day injured list late last month with Achilles soreness.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo (27 homers, 66 RBIs) has been hampered by back issues and outfielder Matt Carpenter, a top candidate for the league’s Comeback Player of the Year award, suffered a fractured foot in the first inning of Monday’s 9-4 win over the Mariners. He will be out indefinitely.
There are natural ebbs and flows to the MLB season and the Yankees remain a strong World Series contender. But the path to a title is decidedly much more arduous than it was a month ago.