ANAHEIM, Calif. — Sean Casey was supposed to be the lifeline.
After 25 years without an in-season coaching change, New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman replaced hitting coach Dillon Lawson with Casey before the All-Star break in an effort to spark the Yankees’ slumping offense. But through five games, Cashman’s attempt at a season-altering desperation move has left Lawson looking like only a scapegoat and the Yankees with no obvious countermove aside from accepting the crystallizing reality that their World Series window looks to be behind them.
On Tuesday, the Yankees mustered just two hits and fell to 1-4 since the All-Star hiatus with a 5-1 loss to the Los Angeles Angels. Mickey Moniak gave Los Angeles an early lead with a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning and the Angels never looked back, adding another run in the third inning via a Domingo German wild pitch and two more in the fifth inning thanks to a triple from Shohei Ohtani and a single from Moniak.
For New York, Gleyber Torres’ solo blast in the top of the third inning marked the only run of the night.
“It’s a low point,” Anthony Rizzo said of the loss.
Although the clubhouse was certainly riddled with an aura of defeat after this one, Yankees manager Aaron Boone has taken an optimistic approach amid this slew of discouraging losses.
“We’re gonna keep competing,” Boone said after the game. “That’s gonna be a boring answer for you guys until we break through, but that’s the only thing we can and the only thing we know how to do.”
While Boone remains steadfast that his team’s struggles are tentative, the Yankees’ performance thus far in Anaheim is undeniably alarming. Through two games, the Yankees have struck out 26 times and scored four runs against a middling opponent (48-48). Their only highlight at the plate has come in batting practice, when a laboring Aaron Judge hit one over the right-field fence on Monday.
In the standings, New York now sits in last place in the AL East and 2.5 games out of a wild card, which, of course, begs the question as to whether it is time for Cashman to rethink his plans ahead of the looming trade deadline.
Boone downplayed the significance of the deadline prior to Tuesday’s game, noting that the Yankees have a built-in boost with the coming return of Judge from a toe injury, but it might be wise for New York to avoid further mortgaging the future in hopes of another deep playoff run.
Adding some more infrastructure around Judge, which the Yankees again failed to this past offseason, would certainly bolster their chances of getting back on track, yet this team is not going anywhere until their current slumping stars find a way to flip the script.
Since May 20, Rizzo is without a home run and was hitting .190 before going 0-for-4 on Tuesday. Giancarlo Stanton is currently hitting .196 on the season and is 0-for-9 against Los Angeles. Two-time batting title winner DJ Lemahieu is even hitting just .231 in 2023.
“A lot of guys are going through a tough, tough stretch,” Boone said after the game. “For some, probably as tough a stretch as they’ve been in in their career.”
With August just 12 days away, Boone can only keep preaching patience and work ethic for so much longer. The Yankees need answers quickly. But one thing is clear: the belief in this group is unwavering and they are insistent upon finding a way out of this funk.
“You don’t take your ball and go home,” Boone said after the game. “You stick your nose in there and you grind it out and you compete your ass off.”