Aaron Boone talks Yankees’ lifeless offense after losing to Mickey Moniak, Angels

19 July 2023

ANAHEIM — Aaron Boone listed several reasons for pitching to the red-hot Shohei Ohtani during the seventh inning of the Yankees’ Monday night loss to the Angels. The one that raised the most eyebrows was Mickey Moniak.

“The guy hitting behind him is really good, too,” Boone said of Moniak before Tuesday’s contest while reflecting on Ohtani’s seventh-inning at-bat, which resulted in a game-tying homer. “That guy’s in the middle of a really kind of burst on the scene year where the guy’s hitting .330 and well over a .900 OPS.”

While Moniak, the first overall pick in 2016, is enjoying a breakout campaign, the mention of his name drew criticism because he’s hardly an established force like Ohtani. A career .239 hitter on his second team, this season has been Moniak’s first extended look in the majors, and his campaign hasn’t even reached 50 games yet.

Boone, also citing the situation, chose to challenge the superior player, and it cost them.

On Tuesday, however, Moniak outdid Ohtani and validated Boone’s praise, crushing the night’s biggest blast in a 5-1 Angels win. His two-run homer off Domingo German gave the Halos a first-inning lead that they never relinquished, and his fifth-inning single, which deflected off DJ LeMahieu’s glove, provided a welcomed insurance run.

Moniak is now hitting .336 with a 1.014 OPS.

While Moniak had the better night, Ohtani didn’t exactly cool off at the plate. He hit an RBI triple down the right field line in the fifth, which made it a 4-1 ballgame.

The Angels scored their third run on a wild pitch from German, who allowed five earned over six frames despite striking out nine. He also allowed four hits and three walks over 106 pitches.

Meanwhile, Angels starter Patrick Sandoval kept the Yankees quiet for the second night in row by allowing just two hits and one earned run over 7.1 innings. The southpaw struck out seven while walking three over 99 pitches.

The Yankees’ only run came on a Gleyber Torres longball in the third.

“Mood’s down for sure,” said Anthony Rizzo, whose homerless struggles continued Tuesday. “We definitely all expect better of ourselves individually and as a team. It’s OK to be down right now. It’s a close group. This is a low point and we’ve been battling. But this is part of it. It’s what we keep telling each other. This is part of the journey and this is the story of the 2023 season and this is what we’re dealt with. These are the cards in front of us and we’ve just got to keep playing.”

The Angels began the game with the seventh-worst rotation ERA in the majors, but the Yankees only managed three runs off Sandoval and Griffin Canning in the first two games of the series. The Bombers have scuffled against mediocre and bad teams and starting pitchers lately, which has prompted Boone to repeat phrases along the lines of, “We gotta do better.”

But those reiterations haven’t changed anything about the last-place Yankees’ offense. So far, neither has new hitting coach Sean Casey. At some point, does Boone just say this is who the Yankees are?

“No, no, no. Like there’s no quit in it. There’s no — we gotta fight,” the manager said. “We got really good players. And a lot of guys that are going through a tough, tough stretch. For some, probably as tough a stretch as they’ve been in their career. So you don’t take your ball and go home. You stick your nose in there and you grind it out and you compete your a— off. We’re doing that. They’re doing that. They’re not leaving any stone unturned. It’s not from a lack of work and focus and conversations. So with all due respect, we’re going to keep competing, and that’s gonna get to be a boring answer for you guys until we break through, but that’s the only thing we can do and the only thing we know how to do. And it’s not accepting anything, not when we have the group that we know we’re capable of. But we got to get it out. We got to find it. We gotta find it.”

Boone, after several long answers to questions about the Yankees’ underachievement, was then asked how pissed he is. He admitted that there are moments “where you get frustrated and upset,” but he doesn’t think that fixating on those emotions will help.

“That’ll wear you down,” Boone said. “You start getting overly emotional, high, low, mad. Look, we’re human. There’s gonna be things in the moment that frustrate you. Our job is to work and figure it out.”

While Boone has maintained faith in the Yankees’ core, the likes of Rizzo, LeMahieu, Giancarlo Stanton and the now-injured Josh Donaldson have endured prolonged struggles at the plate with Aaron Judge on the injured list.

Boone has expressed frustration with that narrative at times, but he acknowledged that “it’s fair” on Tuesday.

“That’s what the story is,” Boone said when asked about Judge’s absence. “So we can correct it. We got the players to do it. We have players with track records to do it. I understand that’s the story. And it’s fair for this year. We’ve been through stretches in 2019 where we were down Judge and [Stanton] and kept on banging. And those guys in that clubhouse are very capable. It’s coincided with obviously the game’s best player out. So that’s the story. But we’re capable. Still. We gotta find it. I mean, simple as that. And I know that’s a broken record. I know that’s a boring answer. We gotta find it. And we’ve got the guys capable of doing it. And it’s on all of us. On me, on the coaches, on staff, on players to, again, strike that balance between — because the care factor is so much, and the game’s so damn hard and hitting is so hard — you got to strike that balance between coming in focused, work, preparation. Now 7 o’clock hits — 6:38 tonight — man, let’s go play. Go play the game like a kid. And we gotta find that balance.”


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