OAKLAND, Calif. — Do the Yankees need a day away from a baseball season that is aboard a bobsled to Baseball Hell without a brake man?
“This is the time you find out what you are made of as a team,’’ Matt Holliday said in the silence of the Yankees’ clubhouse following Sunday’s 4-3 loss to the lowly A’s in front of 34,140 fans soaked in 90-degree sweat at the Coliseum, who witnessed a four-game sweep by the home team. “These things happen and you find out what you are made of.’’
With Monday dark on the schedule, the Yankees have a chance to rest tired bodies and clear exhausted minds after stuffing a season-high six-game losing streak into the red-eye flight out of California where they went 1-6 against the Angels and A’s.
“I’ll be happy to get back home and happy there is a day off,’’ Brett Gardner said. “Try to reboot and get back to playing the way we know we are capable of playing.’’
When the Yankees beat the Angels, 5-3, last Monday night in Anaheim they extended a winning streak to six games, improved to 38-23 and pushed their AL East lead to four lengths over the second-place Red Sox.
Since then they are 0-6 and hoping a six-game homestand, starting with three against the Angels on Tuesday and ending with three versus the Rangers, removes the sour taste of a brutal West Coast trip. And their lead over the Red Sox was one-half length pending the outcome of Sunday night’s Red Sox-Astros game.
“We play very well at home,’’ Holliday said of the Yankees’ 22-9 ledger at Yankee Stadium.
Rob Refsnyder reacts after striking out in the seventh inning of the Yankees’ 4-3 loss to the A’s on Sunday.AP
And not very well on the road, where they are 16-20.
As always injuries play a part in any misery and the Yankees have health issues. CC Sabathia and Adam Warren went on the
disabled list during the nightmare trip. Aaron Hicks missed the last three games with a lower left leg problem. Gary Sanchez returned from days off Friday and Saturday due to an abductor-muscle injury to go 0-for-4 Sunday.
Holliday’s 14th homer leading off the second against Jharel Cotton and Aaron Judge’s RBI single in the third staked Luis Cessa to a 2-0 lead that the right-hander, who was filling in for Sabathia, gave back in the third when the A’s scored four times. Two came on Khris Davis’ 18th homer.
Didi Gregorius pulled the Yankees to within a run with a homer in the fourth and the Yankees had a chance to tie the score
in the ninth thanks to shortstop Chad Pinder’s throwing error which allowed Gregorius to reach second with one out.
However, lefty Sean Doolittle overpowered Chase Headley with a 96-mph fastball for a strikeout and Chris Carter fouled out
to end it.
“The day off comes at a great time,’’ said Gardner, who doubled and scored in the third.
There were some positives on the disastrous trip. Aroldis Chapman came off the DL and reached 101.5 mph with his fastball in the eighth inning Sunday. Hicks and Sanchez avoided injuries serious enough to land them on the DL. Some will point to the six losses coming by a combined seven runs as a plus.
However, losses aren’t marked on a curve and all count equally, so there is no getting around a 1-6 road trip. It’s damaging.
“It’s disappointing, no fun to lose,’’ Gardner said. “We need to straighten things out on Tuesday.’’
Judging by the past six games that might be easier said than done.