In the long list of worst games that the Yankees have played this season, this game will hardly appear near the top. There are more iconic and heartbreaking losses, but none will prove more of a litmus test for where this team stands than right here. The Yankees walked into Truist Park a non-playoff team and got demolished by the team with the best record in baseball, 11-3 in a completely non-competitive fashion.
Clarke Schmidt entered this game on a decent streak, having made eight consecutive starts of five or more innings allowing just three runs or less. That’s hardly ace material or anything, but in this year it was in fact good enough to make him the de facto No. 2 starter — and the Braves still rocked him regardless. Schmidt was met with resistance right away, burning away a 1-0 lead in an instant when Austin Riley tagged a sinker that caught too much of the plate for a solo shot in the first inning. Then, even after the team re-acquired the lead for him, Schmidt couldn’t prevent a two-out rally from exploding into three runs for the home team on singles from Nicky Lopez and Michael Harris II.
Aaron Boone allowed Schmidt to head back out for the third inning, needing some length from his young starter considering the state of the rest of the rotation, but there was blood in the water. Matt Olson led off the frame with a single, and after a forceout Marcell Ozuna doubled to put two in scoring position for Eddie Rosario to clean up with a single to right. Orlando Arcia and Lopez singled back-to-back to keep the offense humming, and like that it was 8-2 and Boone had no choice but to yank Schmidt in favor of Ian Hamilton.
What was more frustrating about this implosion is that the offense actually seemed to stand a chance against Max Fried. They scored the aforementioned two runs in the first two frames thanks to back-to-back singles to lead off the game and an RBI groundout with the bases eventually loaded, followed by and Isiah Kiner-Falefa RBI single in the second. While they went down in order in the third, Fried allowed a double to Anthony Volpe in the fourth and a wild pitch to move him to third base, and singles to Oswaldo Cabrera and Harrison Bader in the fifth and sixth respectively. Cabrera was erased on a standard double play, while Bader was eventually ruled out on a pickoff attempt that got reviewed, but Fried overall allowed eight hits and a free pass over six innings while striking out just two — and the Yankees only got a pair of runs out of it.
Hamilton held serve for 2.2 innings, doing some magnificent work to save the bullpen some mileage, and Albert Abreu entered to continue the mop-up duty. He ran into trouble in the sixth, ultimately working the bases loaded and then letting a runner score on a wild pitch, but he evaded further damage there. The Braves weren’t done scoring, however, and Rosario put up one more crooked number with a two-run blast in the eighth for good measure.
The Yankees got a pity run across in the ninth when Billy McKinney worked a two-out walk and Volpe tripled to bring him home, but that rally was quickly snuffed out. The team was thoroughly outmuscled by the superior team in Atlanta, and they’ve got two more games to go to see just how low they can plummet before this road trip is blissfully over.
New York is 60-59, just a mere game over .500, and 5.5 games back of the final Wild Card spot with the Blue Jays inactive on Monday. They’re far from mathematically eliminated, but it’s safe to say we know where they stand in the grand scheme of things. Luis Severino gets the ball tomorrow for the middle game of the series, facing off against Bryce Elder, if you’re looking forward to seeing what horrors await in that start. First pitch will be at 7:20 p.m. ET.