The Yankees put up a decent fight in their series-finale against the Astros on Sunday, having rallied from an early four-run deficit, but the club couldn’t complete a second comeback and had to settle for the split with a 9-7 loss in The Bronx.
Although they lost, manager Aaron Boone was encouraged by what he saw from his players in the batter’s box — despite the fact they never got the big hit with runners on base.
“I thought the at-bats were good all day long,” Boone said. “The strike zone control really got us back in that game. The walks hurt them, but kind of the walks hurt us, too. Setting them up for some innings.
“Three-for-12 [with runners in scoring position] is about what you’re going to hit. You take seven runs and try and make that stand up, but we’re probably one big swing away from a double-digit day. … Just one of those things. We talked about getting better and better at-bats here of late, and I thought we continued that today.”
Houston walked a whopping 12 Yankees batters, with Isiah Kiner-Falefa leading the way with three free passes. The Yankees also managed to load the bases twice in the loss, once in the fourth inning and another in the eighth.
The fourth inning saw the Bombers score four runs to knot the game 5-5, but the club only managed to pick up one in the same situation later on to make it a two-run game.
“I thought that was — for the first time in a long time — a really good game and a really good battle,” said Harrison Bader, who was 3-for-5 on the day with two RBIs. “There wasn’t a single time during that game, regardless of what was going on the other side, where we felt like we were out of it. Listen, all you can do is after nine innings ask yourself if there was ever a swing or a situation where you put yourself in a position to win the game.
“And obviously, with the way it came down there, we did a great job with that, battling back. I think it was actually a really big momentum boost for us moving forward.”
When Brian Cashman relieved former hitting coach Dillon Lawson of his duties last month, the Yankees general manager said he thought the team was putting too much pressure on pitching with so many low-scoring games. The focus since, behind new hitting coach Sean Casey, has been on competitive at-bats and getting on base.
Boone credited the return of key players, like Aaron Judge, to the lineup for the Yankees’ recent change in tune at the plate.
“Very encouraging, encouraging week for our offense I think,” Boone said. “We’re not all the way where we want to be, but I definitely feel like the at-bat qualities we talked about, the heaviness. … I think they went through a heavy lineup today. They had to work. They had to earn everything.
“That’s how we need to make it. Especially, we’re getting down to 50 or so games left in the year. We got to be clicking on all cylinders. I at least like the way we’re trending right now.”