Thursday’s 13-4 romp proved a tease as the Yankees scored just six runs the rest of the series compared to Oakland’s nine. The lead in the AL East is back down to 7.5 games over the Rays, who loom on the horizon.
New York, in the meantime, heads south to Anaheim to face an Angels team that just swept rival Toronto. Will the bats wake up in time for three games with Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani?
The offense still isn’t there. We now know Thursday’s blowout was a blip on the radar. In no universe is it acceptable to notch just one hit in an extra-innings loss against a last place team. Oakland is in a hard tank and their pitching ranks 24th in MLB. A series split is better than a loss, but the Yankees’ overall effort was disappointing.
The Coliseum Effect. In fairness to the Yankees, they did manage to work good at-bats the whole series. Saturday’s poor showing was just Adam Oller having his best stuff that night. Even so, Oakland Coliseum is not Yankee Stadium and some loud outs proved that all weekend. Anthony Rizzo missed what would have been a key home run Sunday, and Oswaldo Cabrera missed his first big-league home run at least twice.
This means that above all else, the Yankees are seeing the ball well in the strike zone. The aging Coliseum also has something of a Tropicana Field effect on even the best teams. Remember, the Astros got swept there last month and they’re the best team in the AL. It’s not an excuse for New York, but it’s something to build on entering the Angels series.
Keep Oswaldo Cabrera around. It’s hard to look at Cabrera and not think of Dani Rojas, the jovial Mexican soccer star from the hit TV show “Ted Lasso.” Like Rojas, Cabrera plays hard and has an infectious positive energy that trickles down to the rest of the team. For example, the fact that the Yankees saw the ball well in the zone against Oakland despite the results.
It’s also worth noting that Cabrera has posted a wRC+ of 106 and a +3 defensive runs saved (DRS) in right field. And he’s primarily an infielder! Cut Marwin Gonzalez loose and give Oswald Peraza a go alongside Cabrera.
Should we be concerned about Clarke Schmidt? Schmidt made his first turn in the rotation in place of the injured Nestor Cortes and fell far short of expectations. He never had command of his slider and allowed four runs on eight hits in 4.1 innings. One walk and seven strikeouts saved the start from being an absolute dud.
All this to say, Schmidt has often looked good but not necessarily great in his young Yankees career. This seems largely mechanical and fixable, as his release extension is just in the 25th percentile. His next start will be against the Rays in Tropicana Field in an important game. After what should have been a gimme win and quality start in Oakland, how much can he afford to have another rough outing in Tampa Bay?
Follow ESNY on Twitter @EliteSportsNY