Yankees: NYY must be willing to fight back against Rays’ brushbacks


The Rays and Phillies both got under the Yankees skin in recent days.

Despite leading the AL East, the New York Yankees aren’t a team devoid of weaknesses.

Their starting rotation gets patchwork very quickly. Their slugger-packed lineup never says die, but could use a situational hitting lesson.

Perhaps most importantly, though? The Yankees have been easily agitated so far by the actions of their opponents.

First came the Phillies series, briefly taken over by a fan with an air horn outside Citizens Bank Park, which Aaron Boone complained about with fervor. Unfortunately, the Yanks were unable to rally, and let their bats shut up the man outside the gates. Instead of being undermined in defeat, the Yanks were labeled “crybabies,” and the air horn dude was able to own the narrative for the night.

Unfortunately, locked in a tough series with the Rays, that side of the Yankees has unfortunately reared its ugly head once more.

Aaron Judge confirmed after Saturday’s second game, a 5-3 loss, that Boone and Marcus Thames’ mid-game outburst “was more just about the history.” It seems, once again, that the Yanks got agitated by a series of near-beanballs, especially one that knocked DJ LeMahieu to the artificial turf.

Unfortunately, the scoreboard reads in the wrong direction for the Yankees on this one, too — so far.

The blustering, complaining, and subtle postgame jabs don’t work as well when the victory is registered by the intimidators, and the favorites don’t fight back.

Prior to 2020, this was usually CC Sabathia’s territory. The Rays want to jaw and get dangerous? He’ll throw it right back, just below your neck.

But in ’20, the Yankees are so far 0-2 in responding to scare tactics, whether they’ve come from a wandering fan or by a pesky franchise in Tampa known for taking things to the limit.

“The only thing we’re mindful of is, we’re trying to compete and go out and win. I think it’s best to leave it at that,” Cash told the New York Post on Sunday. “I can respect their thoughts and I think it’s just, we’ve got to continue playing games and finding ways to win.”

The 2020 Yankees are a very good team, off to a very good start, and oozing with talent. So far, though, they’re towards the bottom of the league in getting the battle-back narrative on their side.

Every day is an opportunity for this to change, and it starts with showing the Rays that both squads are willing to fight for the minute advantage.