Even without what batting coach Dillon Lawson describes as “three of our top five batters,” it was still shocking to see the Yankees’ lineup knocked out in back-to-back games this week, and for the third and fourth time. over a 10-day span.
Lawson admits there’s “no doubt” that the American League’s leaders in points scored have missed injured producers Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Carpenter — and, in recent days, DJ LeMahieu — or other slumping regulars have to pick up their absent teammates.
“I think one of our greatest assets of the entire season has been the depth of the line-up. So right now one of our greatest strengths is gone,” Lawson said before the team-wide goals continued on Tuesday with a 3-1 loss to the Rays at the Stadium. guys in the lineup, we also have some guys in the lineup who have been performing all year and are making their first real slumps since maybe April.
“So when you get all that together, we just have to continue to keep our heads down and push forward.”
Aaron Hicks has been an obvious culprit for much of the season. He was kept out of Tuesday’s lineup – with MVP league leader Aaron Judge back in midfield – after a hitless game Monday night, including a grounder in a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded in the fourth inning of a 4 – 0 loss to Tampa Bay.
Lawson added that he believes Josh Donaldson and Gleyber Torres “swung the bat right” during the Yankees’ recent 2-7 road trip.
Still, Donaldson (1-for-4 Tuesday) is stuck in a 3-for-25 slide with no extra-base hits or RBI’s and 11 strikeouts since his four-hit game on August 8 in Seattle. Torres has three goals in the last two games since stopping a 0-for-22 skid on Monday night. Andrew Benintendi hit a single and a triple in three trips on Tuesday, but hit .211 with a .657 OPS in 18 games after a trade on July 27 by the Royals.
Judge, the MLB home run leader, can’t be expected to go all out for a lineup that has averaged 2.75 runs over the past 12 games – after 5.4 per game over the first 105 games.
“Even when things went well, we always doubted the process. We were still making changes to what we would do,” Lawson said. “We were still coaching, even when things went well. Even with Judge, with Stanton, with… [Anthony] Rizzo, with DJing, is still coaching them through great seasons, knowing that if it’s not going well when it’s going well, it’s probably not going to be good when it’s going bad.”
That mindset, Lawson added, “turns into panic or second guessing,” so he and manager Aaron Boone have consistently preached that the Yankees can’t “rest on the fact that we were winning games.”
“Is it good baseball? Is it a good process? For us now, that gives us comfort to go through this knowing that the process is good,” Lawson said. “It allowed us to play at a high level earlier. It is constantly adapting, not to say that we are blind to new changes. There is always a healthy sense of insecurity or paranoia, of ‘are we good enough?’
“We have to keep improving. Keep picking and moving forward even though we think we have the best offense in baseball.”