How many times are the 2021 New York Yankees going to win series against their rivals, yet still leave fans feeling cold with a stunner of a finale?
How many times is this group of guys going to spar and battle and reel off two wins, only to be punched in the mouth so hard in Game 3 they’re left wondering if Rob Manfred’s going to install a third Wild Card?
Typically, in these gagged-away final contests with a shot at a sweep, there’s a blown lead, a stagnant offense, and a moment you can point to where the opposing dugout is clearly laughing at the team that entered with all the momentum in the world.
This particular game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Thursday afternoon was far more boring and seemed done by the first inning (with Gerrit Cole on the mound!), but still left us with a sour, Aaron Boone-sanctioned taste in our mouths.
The Yankees trailed 4-0 with no outs recorded in the bottom of the first, a brutal-looking deficit, but one that a hungry team can claw back from against a rookie with a 5.00+ ERA.
Not this team, though, and Aaron Boone removed all doubt by leaving a potential deadline trade piece in Albert Abreu on the mound to rot in the sixth, forcing the kid’s confidence into the gutter as he failed to record a single out, surrendering only rockets out of the ballpark.
And failed … and failed … and failed …
Aaron Boone embarrassed Yankees rookie Albert Abreu.
We understand why Abreu was given chance after chance to find his rhythm. The bullpen’s barren and the game was a lost cause.
But managers should be looking to avoid giving their rivals an opportunity to feel amazing at the tail end of a series they’d already lost. The goal should be to prevent the Rays from being able to swagger to the team bus after the game, going, “Did you SEE the look on Abreu’s face? They don’t scare us!”
Aaron Boone, without any semblance of feel for the moment, allowed the Rays to raise his rookie’s ERA by four runs, decimating a young player’s confidence and casting an air of doubt on a possible deadline piece in one fell swoop. And any time you have a chance to do all three of those things at once, you simply have to.
This was an objectively great series! The Yankees won a hard-fought ballgame Tuesday night and got some lucky breaks (for the first time … ever?) in extras on Wednesday.
Of course, now it’s just another series where the final game defines the narrative. Where the Rays, the Red Sox, the Blue Jays, the Astros or the Mets get to go home satisfied, giggling at how far from finishing the job the Yankees came. Where Gerrit Cole started with a shot at a sweep and was trailing before an out hit the scoreboard. Where a young pitcher trying to establish himself as the new long man instead established himself as a guy who can give up long ball after long ball — and no one came to get him.
Another series where Luis Cessa might have helped. If only he hadn’t cost just a fraction of a million dollars for the remainder of the season, a contract paid by a billion-dollar monetary behemoth.
There’s something wrong with this team, deep down in its core, exemplified once again by Aaron Boone “planning ” to use Abreu for a few innings, and opting not to deviate from that set-in-stone plan as he got obliterated, allowing the Rays a chance to do push-ups in the dugout and cackle at the team on the other side of the field, the one that was crowned a “dynasty” after one singular ALCS berth.