aaron judge yankees
Cary Edmondson | USA TODAY Sports

A lost road trip later, the Yankees didn’t look any better against the rival Rays.

Sunday’s sneaky 2-1 win capped a 4-6 10-game stretch on the road. New York is still lost at the plate and the AL East lead over Tampa Bay is down to five.

It doesn’t matter that the schedule is softening up soon. The Yankees face these very same Rays next weekend and still aren’t hitting.

Some takeaways:

Ailing Andrew. New York got some bad news in Tampa Bay almost from the start after Andrew Benintendi swung and missed before removing himself from the game. After Sunday’s win, Aaron Boone reported Benintendi had broken his hand and would need surgery. Lindsey Adler of The Athletic added the injury wasn’t necessarily season-ending, though there’s no timeline.

This is a devastating blow for the Yankees since Benintendi was the only one besides Judge who was hitting consistently, batting .356 with a .943 OPS since Aug. 20. Boone now has to figure out who gets those innings in left field. Aaron Hicks? Estevan Florial? Maybe Marwin Gonzalez or Oswaldo Cabrera?  And where on earth is Harrison Bader?

No matter who, none are proven reliable hitters this year. Quite the ominous sign for a slumping team.

Sitting through Stanton’s struggles. Giancarlo Stanton returned from injury last month, but you’d never know. The former MVP is batting a pathetic .100 with no extra base hits since returning in Oakland. Even worse, his 2022 WAR was a lowly 0.7 entering Sunday’s game.

Stanton is a dangerous power hitter when healthy, yet also struggled before getting injured. Thus, this could just be an extension of that slump. Even so, the Yankees need him back at his old self, particularly with five years and $118 million left on that mega-contract.

Oswald needs ABs. Exciting shortstop prospect Oswald Peraza made his long-anticipated MLB debut over the weekend and performed as expected. He registered no hits in seven at-bats across three games at Tropicana Field and also played some second base. The results aren’t there, but he needs to be playing close to every day.

Look at it this way. It isn’t just that Isiah Kiner-Falefa can’t hit and is streaky in the field. DJ LeMahieu’s big-toe injury is making him an almost automatic out, batting .196 since Aug. 1. Gleyber Torres can’t decide if he’s Javier Baez or Trevor Story instead of just being himself.

The answer should be Peraza getting more opportunities to get used to major league pitching. Yet, in the team’s typical stubborn fashion, the Yankees will probably keep him on the bench.

Sighs of relief ahead? The Yankees now go home for four games with the Twins, a usually easy foe. Minnesota has also struggled, slumping into a three-way race for the AL Central. The Twins are also streaky, pulling off some lengthy losing and winning streaks since Aug. 15. Injuries to Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco also have them shorthanded.

This is the perfect opportunity for the Yankees to capitalize on a rival they beat regularly. New York took two out of three at Target Field in June and out-hit Minnesota despite sub-average pitching. The arms have since returned to form, and now the bats need to pick them up in Yankee Stadium’s friendly confines.

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Josh Benjamin has been a staff writer at ESNY since 2018. He has had opinions about everything, especially the Yankees and Knicks. He co-hosts the “Bleacher Creatures” podcast and is always looking for new pieces of sports history to uncover, usually with a Yankee Tavern chicken parm sub in hand.