Pitiful Anthony Volpe, DJ LeMahieu excuses add dark cloud to Yankees' worst loss in years

Atlanta Braves v New York Yankees
Atlanta Braves v New York Yankees / Luke Hales/GettyImages

The 2024 MLB season was over the second Netflix gave the Boston Red Sox a documentary to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their 2004 comeback over the Yankees, but at least we're all finding that out now in July rather than after a few additional months of hope.

This must be true, because the level of backsliding, backpedaling, and backbreaking gaffes put forth by the Yankees has increased to an unfathomable degree. It's the type of level that typically gets a manager fired and a culture changed. The best we can apparently hope for is the return of Phil Bickford.

Friday night's gutting loss to the Red Sox, the Yankees' 14th in 18 games since Alex Verdugo pounded his chest at Fenway Park nearly a month ago, was the result these Bombers deserved. They scored three runs in the contest, all of which came after a botched double play ball with the bases loaded and one out. They went down silently against relievers like Bailey Horn and Cam Booser. Nestor Cortes Jr. showed up valiantly and Luke Weaver put forth a stunning escape in the eighth, but when Clay Holmes reached two out with no one on in the ninth, we were very obviously just getting started. The fates dictated disaster; Dom Smith singled, Masataka Yoshida worked forever for a game-tying two-run homer after Holmes opted out of varying his pitch mix one iota, and we finally reached the equilibrium (and eventual loss) this hideous team had earned.

Because they could've really used the extra run that was handed to them on a silver platter in the third inning, and it's fitting that singular ghastly moment came back to haunt them, as everything else has since June 14.

With runners on the corners and one out, Ben Rice smashed a hotshot down the line, which was fielded by Boston. Romy González (of course, some guy named Romy González was also a hero!) tapped the bag, spun, and threw to second, where DJ LeMahieu borderline bounded directly into the tag. Anthony Volpe still would've scored, though, if he'd been running through to home plate, where there would be no fathomable consequences for his hustle.

Postgame, he excused the meandering by claiming he thought the ball was foul. No one else did. Even if it was, there's no reason not to run. Surely, Aaron Boone questioned this interpretation, and -- nope. Backed him up. The players are always right, even when they're collapsing under pressure with no way out.

Yankees' Anthony Volpe, DJ LeMahieu refuse to hustle in haunting loss to Red Sox

Volpe's brainlock represented the losing run, but at least you can somewhat understand his brain scrambling for an excuse after letting the team down. He should be held accountable in the days to come, and fans should be left baffled that his high motor, his best and most translateable minor-league skill, has somehow disappeared along with his advanced bat. But still. He's a kid. He'll probably own up to this eventually.

In the world of the much less understandable, what reason could Aaron Boone possibly have had to defend this play from LeMahieu, who also chose to run into oncoming traffic a few moments later?

If Boone's claims of normal, run-of-the-mill hustling are accurate, then LeMahieu should see a doctor and get the 200 pounds of cement removed from his sternum.

In all, the Yankees got what they deserved last night, but it was made all the more painful by the Red Sox getting another reason to believe. They're now just three games back of the Yankees in the loss column with two games to go in this series, just three weeks after being 13 behind. If that's not a reason for these Yankees to start hustling, nothing will be.