The injuries are not an excuse. After announcing the latest blow to his roster — six to seven more weeks for set-up man Dellin Betances — Yankee GM Brian Cashman said that this team has not played up to its potential.
“Right now times are tough. We are facing teams that are capable of beating us if we don’t play to the best of our abilities, or close to it, and we’re coming up on the short end, because we’re not playing our best baseball simultaneously through injuries that occurred. The frustration is, what we have out there is more than capable and we’re not putting our best foot forward, and that needs to change sooner than later,” Cashman said. “We cannot wait on the guys coming back. I get that it’s a long season, I just don’t want to make it a long season by poor play.”
Friday night, the Yankees made it just a little longer. On a rainy night in the Bronx, J.A. Happ struggled in his third straight start, and the White Sox rallied in the rain for a 9-6 win at the Stadium.
The Yankees (5-8) lost their fourth straight game and their fifth to a team that finished under .500 last season. The White Sox (4-8) got two home runs from their top prospect Eloy Jimenez, the first of his career.
The Yankees rallied in the sixth, with DJ LeMahieu scoring on Gio Urshela’s RBI-single. In worsening conditions, where Jose Ruiz, Jace Fry and then Nate Jones clearly could not get a good grip on the ball, Aaron Judge was hit by a pitch with two outs to load the bases. Luke Voit flew out to left field to end the threat.
LeMahieu’s single drove in two runs in the first. Austin Romine singled in another and Urshela, who doubled, scored on Judge’s sacrifice fly in the second. In the fourth, Brett Gardner homered for what looked like an insurance run.
The Yankees are facing huge voids in their lineup because of injuries, which have also impacted their bullpen and rotation as well. With a major-league leading 12 players on the IL, the Yankees are missing Giancarlo Stanton, Miguel Andujar, Aaron Hicks, and Didi Gregorius. Friday they added one of their hottest hitters to the IL, Gary Sanchez.
That group drove in nearly half the runs the Yankees scored last season — a combined 410 RBI, just one shy of 50 percent — and hit 51 percent of the home runs the Bombers hit (137).
Still, Cashman said the Yankees have the manpower to be better than their record.
“(it’s) a combination of ‘are we hurt?’ Yes, we’re hurt, but we’re capable. We do have a lot of poor play going on simultaneously with the current active roster,“ Cashman said. “I get it’s early, but no one wants to hear it’s early.”
Happ lasted just four innings, allowing six runs on nine hits and two walks. He struck out five and gave up a home run. In three starts, he has managed to get an out in the fifth inning just once, and has given up four home runs.
“My mindset tonight was to go out and make it stop,” Happ said of the Yankees’ losing. “I didn’t do my job tonight.”
The Yankees have veteran lefty CC Sabathia coming off the IL to start tomorrow and Cashman is hopeful that he can be the stopper they have been lacking.
“We recognize we’ve given away games we shouldn’t have, at the same time we respect the teams that have beaten us. But I also think we’ve cost ourselves at times by mistakes, sloppy play or not being as good as you are possibly capable of being,” Cashman said. “Tomorrow we got CC coming off the disabled list and hopefully tomorrow’s a day we can turn it around and start climbing that small mountain we’ve put in front of us.
“I have confidence in all the people we have. I also know this game can humble you quick. This game is capable of bringing the best to their knees and questioning if they are good enough anymore.”