Aaron Judge Credit: Wikipedia photo

It’s been a rough period for the Yankees since the All-Star break, a team that was the best in Major League Baseball the first half of this season. They were 64-28 going into the break on July 17 but a month later had won just eight games out of 24 and were 72-44 going into Tuesday night’s matchup with the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium. The finale of the three-game series was Wednesday night.

The Yankees were showing signs of decline before the All-Star break, dropping five of their last eight. After a five-game losing streak from Aug. 2 through Aug. 9 and three consecutive losses last week, two to the Seattle Mariners on the road and one to the Red Sox in Boston, they faced the Rays on Tuesday looking to avoid another stretch of three straight defeats.

Following a 4-0 loss to the Rays on Monday after being shut out 3-0 by the Red Sox on Sunday, Yankees manager Aaron Boone said his team has to turn it around. “Right now we gotta do better and it’s hard right now,” Boone said. “It’s hard and we gotta find a way. We gotta keep digging ourselves out of this.”

Outfielder Aaron Hicks is the most obvious example of the Yankees’ recent issues. He has had a nightmare season and heard the frustration of the home crowd on Monday, going 0-for-3. Hicks was batting just .218 in 308 at-bats in 102 games. His run production was poor as the 32-year-old centerfielder had only six home runs and 32 RBIs.

“I’m out there trying to compete and help this team win,” said Hicks. “Obviously, it’s not nice to hear boos but when you’re having the season the way that I am, that’s kind of the way it goes. Especially around here. They want results.”

Despite their struggles, the Yankees were still far ahead of their competition in the AL East division. They were 10 games over the Rays and Toronto Blue Jays, who were tied for second at 61-53 when Tuesday’s schedule began.

The Yanks host the Toronto Blue Jays tonight (Thursday) through Sunday, then close out a nine-game home stand with two games versus the Mets at CitiField next Monday and Tuesday.

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