Yankees' blowout loss to Red Sox a summary of entire up-and-down season


It was only one game, but it felt like a summation of the state of the AL East race the Red Sox have grabbed by the throat over the last two weeks, to the point where suddenly it looks as if they might run away with the division title.

So much for that Friday night miracle win reviving the Yankees’ offense and launching a run to first place.

Or to put it another way: man, the vibe sure changed fast.

With their ace on the mound less than 24 hours after that feel-good comeback victory, the Yankees had to be thinking this weekend could prove to be a turning point in catching the Red Sox.

Instead Luis Severino took a rare pounding at the Stadium on Saturday as the Sox flexed the long-ball muscles they’ve re-discovered lately, with Andrew Benintendi hitting a pair of three-run home runs.

Gary Sanchez (c.) and the Yankees were blown out by the Red Sox on Saturday.

Gary Sanchez (c.) and the Yankees were blown out by the Red Sox on Saturday.

(Frank Franklin II/AP)

The result was an ugly 10-5 loss that left the home team facing the daunting prospect of needing to beat Chris Sale on Sunday night to win the series.

Yes, it really does feel as if the Yankees are in big trouble, at least as far as catching the Sox. They are 4½ games out of first place, but more to the point, the Sox are flying, with nine wins in their last 10 games, while glaring issues continue to mount for the team in pinstripes.

Most significantly, on Saturday Masahiro Tanaka joined CC Sabathia on the 10-day disabled list with arm soreness that the Yankees labeled as shoulder inflammation. And while both he and the team said it should be a short-term absence, the injury makes it that much harder to believe the Japanese star will find his ace-form with any consistency this season.

As if that wasn’t bad enough, Jordan Montgomery was hit in the head by a fly ball while signing autographs before Saturday’s game, leaving him with a cut on his right ear and some question about whether he’ll be ok to pitch Sunday night.

No more than 7 images from any single MLB game, workout, activity or event may be used (including online and on apps) while that game, activity or event is in progress.

Luis Severino struggled on Saturday, giving up eight earned runs.

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

The Yankees put him through concussion protocol and said he should be fine to make his start — as did Montgomery after the game.

But even if he is ok, the starting rotation is hurting. It seemed to be in great shape after the recent trades for Sonny Gray and Jaime Garcia, but at the very least the Yankees will need Luis Cessa, Bryan Mitchell, or Caleb Smith to make an emergency start against the Mets on Monday night.

Which prompted Joe Girardi to say: “It’s a darn good thing we made the additions we did, or we’d be really short.”

With all of that as a backdrop, Severino’s first clunker since July 2 obviously came at a bad time, and it’s fair to wonder if he’ll hit a wall down the stretch, since he’s never thrown more than 114 innings in a season, and he’s now at 143 and counting after Saturday.

Aaron Judge.

Aaron Judge.

(Rich Schultz/Getty Images)

At the same time, he had been brilliant of late, prompting Girardi to say he sees no signs of concern.

“If he has three or four bad ones back-to-back, then you worry,” the manager said. “He just wasn’t executing pitches today.”

Meanwhile, pitching is only part of the concern, as Aaron Judge’s second-half slump grows more alarming, and as a result, the Yankee offense is anemic more days than not.

I thought his lightning-bolt of a home run to right-center last Sunday in Cleveland might get Judge back on track, but since then he has returned to looking lost. He has continued to chase fastballs up and sliders off the plate, while failing to square up the hittable pitches he was crushing in the first half, and taking way too many third-strikes.

Eduardo Nunez has sparked the Red Sox since Boston acquired him at the trade deadline.

Eduardo Nunez has sparked the Red Sox since Boston acquired him at the trade deadline.

(Michael Dwyer/AP)

After going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts looking on Saturday, Judge is hitting .161 (15-for-93) since the All-Star break with 43 strikeouts, and he has K’d in 29 straight games, which seems unfathomable after his remarkable first half.

While he is still drawing enough walks to have a .419 on-base percentage, his batting average has fallen to .289 — from .329 at the All-Star break.

And as unthinkable as it was a month ago, when Judge was the clear MVP of the AL, never mind Rookie of the Year, it’s not out of the question that Benintendi could give him a run for the rookie award.

The Boston outfielder’s overall numbers don’t compare yet, but he is as hot lately as Judge was in the first half. Together with newcomer Eduardo Nunez and rookie call-up Rafael Devers, Benintendi has sparked the Red Sox offensively, hitting .484 with three doubles, four home runs and 11 RBI in the last eight games.

For the season he’s hitting .280 with 16 home runs and a .359 on-base percentage, which is a long way from Judge territory, but much like their respective ballclubs, the two outfielders are headed in opposite directions at the moment.

If Judge finds his game-changing stroke again soon, the Yankees could still make a run at these Red Sox. At the moment, however, it feels as if the AL East title is slipping away in a hurry. 

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