The Yankees’ weekend series against the Rays did not go well. They lost three games, only scoring one run across the first two games.
Naturally, this does lead to some laments from the pessimistic wing of the fan base. Having worked Pinstripe Alley’s Twitter for one of the games, I can say, it’s a vocal sect too.
It’s probably partly due to the 2013-16ish teams that were in some cases a bit worse than their record, and went through periods of struggles to score. Even though the Yankees appear good now, whenever a small losing run starts, some people just automatically go back to assuming the team is substandard.
For some, it’s that they dislike that a decent chunk of the runs are coming from homers. Even all the “home run rates go up in the playoffs” and the “Yankees have one of the better records in the league in games where they don’t hit a home run” stats aren’t going to sway those people.
In other cases, it’s because people got used to the dynasty teams. Being years removed from that era causes people to only remember the good things about those teams. It takes a bit of luck to win any championship in any sport. Not to mention, one of those teams, the 2000 Yankees, would have missed the playoffs were they in the other two AL divisions that year.
Even as good as the 1998 Yankees were, they laid some eggs sometimes. On September 16th of that season, they stranded 11 runners on base in a loss to the expansions Rays. Tony Saunders, Albie Lopez, and Roberto Hernandez combined to shut them out. Andy Pettitte of all people, got hit around for six runs and six innings, with someone named Aaron Ledesma driving in two. They also lost their season series against a very average Angels team.
The point is, good teams lose games, sometimes even to bad teams. The team with the best record of the modern era, ‘01 Mariners, still lost more than 21% of their games. The great teams get great because they win more often than not. Considering the Rays’ series was the first that they lost in a long time, they’re clearly doing fine on the whole.
None of this is to say that the Yankees themselves shouldn’t be thinking about how to get better. The front office should look to make upgrades to the roster. The coaching staff should be thinking about ways to structure the lineup, rotation, bullpen, whatever. The players should be working with coaches to get out of slumps, get better, etc. This post is not to say that the Yankees are an unstoppable juggernaut that only do good things. They’re fallible too.
However, the front office, coaching staff, and players should be doing all of those things anyway. It’s stuff every team has to consider.
Those things are also not necessarily things the fans should be worried about on a daily basis, at least not yet. If this series loss turns into something longer, then worry. As long as they’re still in playoff position, winning 67% of their games, maybe chill. If they keep doing that, things will work themselves out.
This team still has an incredible record. Yes, it maybe doesn’t look as great as it could because the Red Sox are right there with them. Even still, enjoy the ride while you can. Maybe the pessimists’ wildest fears come true. Until that happens, there’s no reason to be overly upset. Losses are gonna happen. Every losing run this season has been matched, even sometimes bettered, by a winning run.