Starting on Friday and finishing on Sunday, the New York Yankees played a crucial three-game series against the Cleveland Indians at Yankee Stadium.
This, and the upcoming series against the Texas Rangers at home, was supposed to be the “easy” part of their remaining schedule.
However, the Yankees ended up dropping two of the three games by a scandalous margin.
A Good Start, But A Horrendous Finish
They won Friday’s tilt 8-0 thanks to Corey Kluber’s six shutout innings, but everything went downhill starting on Saturday.
That day, they lost 11-3: starter Luis Gil allowed just one run through four, but things unraveled in the fifth and the Indians scored seven times in that inning.
Defensive errors didn’t help, either.
Gil ended up conceding three runs (two earned) in 4.1 frames, and Albert Abreu absorbed five earned runs in just two-thirds of an inning.
Andrew Heaney then entered the game and pitched three frames, conceding two solo home runs.
On Sunday, the Yankees had their ace Gerrit Cole on the mound, and everybody was confident he would return the Bombers to their winning ways with a solid performance.
That didn’t happen.
Cole wasn’t sharp, and again, defensive miscues ended up drowning the Yankees, losers of Sunday’s contest 11-1.
Cole, one of the leading AL Cy Young candidates, may have fallen behind Blue Jays’ Robbie Ray by surrendering seven runs (all earned) in 5.2 frames on Sunday, allowing 10 hits and walk while striking out seven foes.
Yankees fans booed Gerrit Cole as he left yesterday's blowout loss
NYY (+650) has the 4th best odds to win the AL Pennantpic.twitter.com/tMsi3qHaT8
— BetOnline.ag (@betonline_ag) September 20, 2021
The Yankees fielders committed four errors in the two weekend losses, further complicating their chances of winning.
It was a very disappointing weekend for a usually reliable pitching unit.
The Yankees pitching has allowed the ninth-fewest runs per game, at 4.2.
They also have the sixth-fewest batting average against in MLB, with .229, and the sixth-best ERA at 3.76.
It’s not quite an elite unit, but it’s usually well-above average, unlike what it showed this weekend.
The Yankees Pitching Needs To Step Up
Especially disappointing is the fact that the Indians offense is not scary at all.
They rank 17th in runs scored per game with 4.4, 22nd in hits per game with 7.8, 22nd in batting average (.237), 26th in OBP (.304), and 21st in OPS (.712).
The Yankees’ playoffs hopes are now compromised.
They are fourth in the American League East with an 83-67 record, 2.5 games behind the Boston Red Sox for the first Wild Card spot and 1.5 behind the Blue Jays for the second berth.
After the Rangers series, we will see what the Yankees are made of: they have crucial series on the road against the Red Sox (September 24-26) and Blue Jays (September 28-30) before heading home for a final three-game set against the division-leading Tampa Bay Rays (October 1-3).
IMO the Yankees may be done. They lost last 2 games in their easiest part of schedule. Now they face Red Sox then Jays. Jays win 8 outta the 13 in my opinion
— tdizz (@tdizz9) September 19, 2021
Sweeping the Rangers is now a must, as is winning all of their remaining series against direct rivals in the playoff push.
The Yankees dug themselves in a huge hole, in part because their pitching had a weekend to forget against a light-hitting team.
The pitching needs to wake up for what is coming: the Red Sox, Blue Jays, and Rays are all top offenses.NEXT: Grading Zack Britton’s Yankees Tenure Following Tommy John News