Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees are a better team on paper than their rival Boston Red Sox even without star player Aaron Judge.

Unfortunately for New York, Boston took full advantage of that. The Bronx Bombers’ collective slump continued while the Red Sox played spoiler, taking two of three at Yankee Stadium.

It just goes to show that even in a year they’re supposed to be bad, the Red Sox still find a way to match up well with the Yankees. Stumbling New York, now 9.5 games behind the first-place Rays, had better show more respect at Fenway Park next weekend.

Hitting: This proved to be the most frustrating part of the series. Both teams pitched so well and the Yankees struggled so badly to hit that the collective scoring across three games was a 7-7 tie. Even without Judge, the Yankees still had Anthony Rizzo, Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, and DJ LeMahieu to play. One would think those four could spark a team themselves.

All four hit a combined .138 in the series with a single home run between them.

The Red Sox did the opposite and made the most of their opportunities. Rafael Devers hit two home runs and is still a Yankee killer. Justin Turner can still work a good at-bat at 38 and his home run Sunday was so much of a difference maker that it wouldn’t have left any other stadium.

The players the Yankees need to show up, save maybe Donaldson, might as well be playing at replacement level. That can’t be the norm until Judge returns.

Pitching: The Yankees should be thankful Matt Blake is such a great pitching coach. Gerrit Cole’s first loss of the season stung less thanks to more strong outings from Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German. Schmidt, in particular, has looked good after a rough beginning to his season. He has a 2.33 ERA through his last five starts.

Boston’s starters shut the Yankees down all weekend but, again, that’s more a reflection of New York’s poor play. The Red Sox shouldn’t expect similar struggles at Fenway next weekend.

What is the current state of the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry? Regardless of full interleague play, nobody really cares about Yankees-Red Sox unless both teams are true contenders. That isn’t Boston this year, but that doesn’t mean the Bronx Bombers aren’t paying attention.

This is the type of series loss that should be a shot in the arm for the Yankees, especially after Gleyber Torres’ careless error essentially lost Sunday’s game. Monday is an off day followed by the first leg of the Subway Series in Queens. Then, another day off Thursday before a weekend at Fenway.

Its unlikely Judge will be back in the lineup so soon, but maybe Harrison Bader is a possibility. Either way, this is an opportunity for the core of the Yankees’ lineup to reset, refocus, and return the favor in Beantown.

They won’t meet in the playoffs in 2023 but make no mistake. The New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox do not like each other, and that’s never changing.

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.