BOSTON — With all due respect to Meatloaf, two out of three ain’t good.
At least it wasn’t for the Yankees during a weekend stay at Fenway Park, where they dropped two of three games and left New England’s living room five games back of the Red Sox in the AL East.
After flushing a late three-run lead Friday night and swallowing a killer loss, the Yankees rebounded for a one-run victory Saturday evening that gave them a chance to slice the pennant-race deficit to three lengths on Sunday.
Instead a 5-1 defeat that was witnessed by 36,911 pushed them five lengths out, and with 39 games remaining in the regular season the 66-57 Yankees’ chances of getting into the postseason are a lot stronger through the back door provided by two wild-card tickets than as AL East champs.
Of course the Yankees don’t want to hear that chatter, but watching them struggle to score runs Saturday and Sunday when Aaron Judge’s post All-Star break blues continued, it’s difficult to believe that all of a sudden the runs faucet will go from a slow drip to a gusher.
“You can make up five games in two weeks,’’ Brett Gardner said. “It’s one of those things where you don’t want to be five games back or two games back. We have six weeks left to play and plenty of time to catch them. We don’t need to worry about what they are doing or who they are playing. We need to worry about ourselves.’’
The biggest worry in the Yankees’ universe has to be Judge’s struggles that started July 14 at Fenway. Since then Judge is batting .169 (21-for-124) with seven homers, 14 RBIs and has struck out 58 times in 35 games.
Judge says the elongated slump isn’t turning his mind into goo, that every day is a new chance. Yet, he did admit that the horrific slide has him feeling guilty about letting his mates down.
“Yeah, I am not getting the job done. I am a three hitter and I am in the middle of the order and I have to be that guy for the team. Our model all year has been pass the baton, so I trust the guys behind me to get the job done,’’ said Judge, who went 0-for-4 and extended his consecutive-game strikeout streak to a MLB record 37 with a whiff in the eighth. “But as a three hitter it’s a little disappointing to not get the job done. There is nothing you can do about it. You can’t pout and you can’t cry. You have to keep working and move on.’’
As it has been in three of Sonny Gray’s four starts since being acquired from the A’s, the Yankees didn’t provide enough bat support and that saddled the right-hander with a third loss since being arriving at the trade deadline. In those three defeats the Yankees have scored two runs.
A Yankees lineup that has more dead bats than just the one Judge is swinging was held to a run and three hits by Rick Porcello, the 2016 AL Cy Young winner who has 14 losses this year. Porcello, who has won four straight and is 8-14, walked three and fanned four in six innings.
“He was staying out of the middle of the plate. He doesn’t do anything funky but he knows how to pitch,’’ Gardner said of the Seton Hall Prep product. “We didn’t get a whole lot going against him.’’
Any chance the Yankees had of coming back from trailing 3-1 vanished when Tommy Kahnle’s second game in Fenway resembled his first on Friday night. He issued a walk and two doubles to the first three batters in the eighth that led to two runs and was replaced by Aroldis Chapman.
Gardner is correct in saying there is time to catch the Red Sox, but after dropping two of three to the Red Sox on consecutive weekends it’s easier to view the Yankees as wild-card entrants instead of AL East champs.