The Yankees snapped their five-game losing streak Tuesday, but a night later, their brutal early season offensive funk remained alive and well.
Without the bases-loaded wild pitch the Braves gifted to them Tuesday to mask their struggles, the Yankees’ offense continued to sputter in a 4-1 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday night at a frigid Yankee Stadium.
It was another lifeless loss for the Yankees (6-11), who mustered just five hits (all singles) in the finale of a 1-4 homestand. They drew six walks, but stranded nine base runners and didn’t score until Clint Frazier’s RBI bloop single with two outs in the ninth. That came a night after five hits were just enough to squeak out a win over the Braves (8-10). On Wednesday, there was no life raft from the Atlanta bullpen.
“We gotta treat every at-bat, from our first at-bat, like it’s bottom nine, game’s on the line,” said Aaron Judge, who went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks. “We didn’t bring that intensity from the very first pitch of the game. If we keep bringing that intensity, something we’ve been missing, I think that’ll help turn us around.”
Corey Kluber gave the Yankees a solid start. He was in control through four scoreless innings until he lost his command in the fifth and surrendered a pair of runs. But even a perfect outing wouldn’t have been enough to save the Yankees.
Braves starter Ian Anderson, an upstate New York native, looked right at home pitching in the chilly conditions. The Yankees hardly made him break a sweat for most of the night as he cruised through six innings on just 78 pitches.
They finally put together their biggest threat of the game in the seventh inning — even after it began with Gleyber Torres lightly jogging to first on a comebacker halfway to the mound, a lack of hustle that manager Aaron Boone said he would address with the shortstop.
Still, a Mike Ford single and two-out walks to Gary Sanchez and Frazier loaded the bases later in the inning. But A.J. Minter relieved Anderson and put out the fire by getting DJ LeMahieu to ground out.
“I believe in our guys,” Boone said. “Know who they are. Know we’re gonna mash. It’s definitely frustrating when you’re going through it, but as far as, is it hard to stay positive? Not at all. I know we’re walking out there with heavy artillery each and every night. We just gotta unlock it right now, and we will.”
Instead, the Yankees have been shooting blanks.
Boone juggled the lineup for the second straight game, trying to find some kind of spark. He bumped Giancarlo Stanton into the three-hole for the first time this season and had Gio Urshela, one of his most productive hitters of late, batting cleanup. Struggling outfielders Aaron Hicks and Frazier also reentered the lineup after not starting Tuesday.
It hardly made a difference. Urshela, after going 1-for-3, exited in the eighth inning with lower back tightness. Stanton went 0-for-4 with a strikeout, while Hicks and Frazier combined to go 1-for-5 with three walks — and Frazier’s first RBI of the season.
“I think it’s the age-old, when you struggle offensively there’s that look of a little bit of lifelessness, a little bit of lacking energy is what it looks like,” Boone said. “But I think it’s guys in the fight right now that are grinding away. So yeah, it’s on all of us to make sure we’re not only locked in, which I know we are, but also while you’re taking your lumps and getting beat up a little bit, to make sure your mindset is strong, but also positive.”