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Yankees Finish August With Frustrating 10-18 Record

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Possibly, as things went the other way up on them in August, the Yankees simply weren’t sizing things up properly.

The proper-hander Jameson Taillon summed it up best together with his attitude after a line drive gave him a swollen right wrist and drove him from Tuesday night’s game here after just two innings.

Completely happy that it was not fractured and complimentary of the Los Angeles Angels for having a “nice X-ray machine over there,” Taillon observed: “It’s nice to finally catch a break — or not a break.”

He was talking about himself, but he might have been talking in regards to the Yankees. As they move into September with a visit to the Tampa Bay area for the conclusion of a two-coast, three-city, 10-game, 11-day trip, the Yankees’ mission for the ultimate leg of the season is obvious. They don’t have to catch breaks. They need hits.

The Yankees finished August at 10-18, the second-worst record within the American League for the month (Detroit was 9-18) and the franchise’s worst single month since September 1991 (9-19). Their average of three.61 runs per game was fourth worst within the A.L. for the month, ahead of only the Chicago White Sox (3.59), the Los Angeles Angels (3.52) and the Oakland Athletics (3.3).

“We’ve got to play higher than we’ve got these days, easy as that,” Manager Aaron Boone said after two sixth-inning errors led to a three-run home run by Shohei Ohtani that doomed the Yankees, 3-2, and sent them to their fourth loss in five games. “We have now to start out racking up some wins. Whether the calendar has an eight or a nine or a ten on it, we’ve got to get a little bit higher.”

Flipping the calendar isn’t the worst thing that may occur to this team right away. For ball clubs in contention, Sept. 1 has meaning. It might probably bring a sharper focus and help tighten fundamentals.

“I feel possibly there’s something to that,” Boone said during a conversation earlier Wednesday afternoon. “The tip of July, August, is the dog days, right? Now my kids are going back to high school tomorrow, the calendar shifts, a number of the hot weather starts to chill off a little bit bit and it’s the stretch drive now. Rosters expand a little bit bit.

“It’s a mark on the calendar which means something.”

Because the Yankees wrapped up their first five months, and their final West Coast trip of the regular season, the team seemed focused on the longer term.

“At any time when you’re going for a playoff spot or a division, it’s all the time fun,” said Anthony Rizzo, who has played within the postseason in six of the past seven seasons with the Yankees and the Chicago Cubs. “In an enormous market, it’s fun. Having fun with September, having fun with the moments, having fun with the games.”

Outfielder Andrew Benintendi, a component of three postseasons with Boston from 2016 to 2018, said: “Obviously, the last month of the season loads of things occur with the standings. It gets all the way down to nitty-gritty time. It’s exciting. It’s normally when the perfect baseball, I feel like, happens. In September.”

Having to persuade itself of higher days ahead may be jarring for a club that won 73 percent of its games (61-23) through July 8 and was leading the A.L. East by 15.5 games on the time. But injuries have piled up over the past few weeks. Offensive numbers have plummeted. And the Yankees’ division lead has shrunk to 6 games over the Rays with 30 to play.

A few of that injury luck might be turning around.

Outfielder Giancarlo Stanton (left Achilles’ tendinitis) was activated from the injured list when this trip began in Oakland last Thursday, and the team’s breakout reliever, Clay Holmes (back), was activated here Monday night. Holmes’s slider looked sharp in two perfect appearances against the Angels.

Nestor Cortes (strained groin), arguably the team’s top starter this season before landing on the injured list, threw from a mound Wednesday for the primary time since Aug. 21. The team hopes he’ll return to the rotation next week, though at a career-high 131 innings pitched, his workload figures to be managed through the playoffs. Luis Severino, one other key right-handed starter, who hasn’t pitched since mid-July, is anticipated to make a rehabilitation start at Class A Tampa on Friday.

That excellent news is balanced some by lingering back soreness for Rizzo, who belted his thirtieth home run of the season Tuesday but was not within the lineup Wednesday. (He entered as a defensive alternative within the eighth inning.) Boone indicated that Rizzo might miss a couple of more starts as well.

“August, to me, was just form of — that’s baseball,” Josh Donaldson said Wednesday afternoon before things unraveled for the Yankees again that night. “It happens. I feel like we were capable of hold serve to where if we get a few of these guys back and healthy, and we still have some guys who’re going to come back back and hopefully round into form. Being full strength is significant.”

Donaldson (.222 batting average), second baseman Gleyber Torres (.242) and outfielder Aaron Hicks (.218) are amongst those whose bats the Yankees are working to ignite as Aaron Judge has been asked to hold far an excessive amount of of the offensive load.

“Truthfully, the last month, I haven’t felt terrible,” Donaldson said. “It felt like I’ve run into probably not having the ability to catch momentum. I’ll have a superb game here and the following game punch out a few times and hit two balls hard which might be outs. I can’t gather a head of steam. Really, the last week or two has felt good.”

A part of what attracted the Yankees to Donaldson was his extensive postseason pedigree with Oakland (2012, 2013, 2014), Toronto (2015, 2016), Cleveland (2018) and Atlanta (2019). While the Yankees by and enormous have struggled for several weeks, Donaldson identifies glimmers of hope.

“I feel like we’ve been capable of put ourselves in situations where we’re attempting to scratch together some runs, identical to you’ll within the postseason, and we’ve been capable of maneuver through it a little bit bit,” he said. “When push involves shove within the postseason, we’re going to give you the option to do loads of various things to attain runs.”

Make no mistake, with Judge, Stanton, Rizzo and more, the Yankees will proceed to depend on mashing, reasonably than bunts just like the one dropped down by D.J. LeMahieu in Monday night’s loss. But versatility can bring its rewards.

Donaldson said he had situations in his time with the Blue Jays through which the team’s lack of ability to fabricate runs cost them wins, which he attributed to Toronto not having worked enough on those skills ahead of after they were needed.

“We failed in those opportunities, which type of wound up costing us within the long haul having the ability to get to the World Series,” he said. “I don’t wish to put it on any particular play, I’m not saying that, but possibly had we done it little more within the regular season, or had that capability or foundation to do this, possibly I’d be a World Series champion.”

Those sorts of thoughts can haunt a player years down the road when opportunities go unfulfilled. They’re the form of moments a Yankees team that outplayed nearly everyone else over the season’s first three months is trying to avoid on this 12 months’s stretch run.

Boone, who said he had “total confidence” that his offense would get back on target, wouldn’t go to date as to say he’s completely happy that August is finished, though, because the team packed for Tampa ,late Wednesday night, no person was looking back.

“We’ve got to seek out a approach to punch through,” he said, adding, “It’s right there in front of us.”

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