The Yankees are off to an atrocious start. Brian Cashman's apologists are pointing out that the Yankees started off the 1998 season poorly as well.
The 1998 Yankees were assembled by Gene Michael and Bob Watson. The 2021 Yankees have been assembled by Brian Cashman. This is not going to be another 1998.
The Yankees lost the opener of this home series to the Tampa Bay Rays to fall to 5-8 on the season. And then, yesterday, they had to face the Rays' ace, Tyler Glasnow.
Swell. Jordan Montgomery, our starter, was really going to have to be on his game.
For a while, he did well. Montgomery pitched 6 full innings, and wasn't terrible. The teams exchanged single runs in the 2nd inning, and it was still 1-1 going into the 4th. But Montgomery allowed 2 homers, a solo and a 2-run, and it was 3-1 Rays after 6.
Yankee broadcaster John Sterling likes to say that a 2-run deficit is "just a bloop and a blast." Which is fine, if your team is capable of that. The 2021 Yankees, thus far, haven't been.
And then, going against Cashman's usual strategy, Aaron Boone let Montgomery start the top of the 7th. Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. And Montgomery started the inning with a walk, and was pulled. That baserunner would turn out to be critical.
Boone brought in Jonathan Loaisiga, who was off to a great start this season. Not this time: He gave up a home run to make it 5-1 Tampa Bay.
The Yankees mounted a comeback in the bottom of the 7th. With 1 out, Rougned Odor hit his 1st home run as a Yankee, DJ LeMahieu singled, and Aaron Judge doubled him home. For a moment, there was a sense that the game -- maybe even the season -- was turning around, right here.
So much for that idea: Aaron Hicks and Giancarlo Stanton struck out, ending the threat.
Loaisiga got through the 8th with no further damage, but Cashman/Boone replaced him with Justin Wilson for the 9th, and he allowed another run. The Yankees went down meekly in the 8th and the 9th.
Rays 6, Yankees 3. WP: Glasnow (2-0). SV: Diego Castillo (4). LP: Montgomery (1-1).
The Yankees are now 5-9. Over 162 games, that works out to 58-104. They are already 5 games behind the hated Boston Red Sox in the American League Eastern Division. This team designed to blow the opposition out of the yard has a collective batting average of .217, ranking 13th in the 15-team AL; an on-base percentage of .302, 11th; and a slugging percentage of .354, dead last. They have scored 53 runs, 14th. They have hit 15 home runs, 12th.
This is the team that Brian Cashman has built. He meant to design the greatest artillery any baseball team has ever had. Instead, he has built a bunch of rock-throwers who can't hit the target.
The series concludes this afternoon. Gerrit Cole will try to pitch as he usually does, with the hope of getting some run support, against Andrew Kittredge.
It's like that old Sunday school song: "I may never march in the infantry, ride in the cavalry, shoot in the artillery... "
And the cavalry is not coming over the hill in the nick of time to save the Yankees. That would require somebody to call them.
And Brian Cashman mans the phone.