Yankees in danger of missing postseason as free fall continues

NEW YORK — Remember way back in time when the Yankees had us convinced they were a juggernaut? That they had put their past struggles behind them, and would finally be returning to the World Series?

That was two weeks ago.

They have since exposed all of their blemishes, blotches, warts and futility once again, reminding everyone that their 13-game winning streak may have been nothing more than a mirage.

They were humiliated for all of New York to see Friday night at Citi Field, losing 10-3 to the Mets. It was the Yankees’ seventh consecutive defeat, and their 11th loss in the last 13 games.

“It’s a frustrating, awful start of the series,’’ Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “We’ve had an awful week. I think these guys are desperately trying to turn this thing around. I think they are committed to the process. We’re just not getting results right now.

“We’re all [teed] off about it. We have to play better.’’

The Yankees may still be alive in the wild-card race, tied with the Toronto Blue Jays and COVID-stricken Boston Red Sox with the same number of losses, but it’s almost as if they’re only being kept on life support until family members pull the plug.

“I think we’re beyond frustrated,’’ Yankees infielder D.J. LeMahieu said. “But now is not the time to point fingers at anybody, it’s not too late to raise our game and collectively get out of it together.’’

The Yankees keep pointing to their 13-game winning streak, knowing they’re capable of doing damage.

Yet, the 13 games they’ve played since have shown that they’re more than capable of going on a five-month vacation after their Oct. 3 regular-season finale.

“We’ve been the streakiest team in the league,’’ LeMahieu says. “Either we’ve been playing really bad, or unbelievable. Not a whole lot in between.

“One good game and the tides can turn in a hurry.’’

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When they have games like Friday, looking more like the Baltimore Orioles than a playoff team, time is running out.

You want to see what a starting rotation looks like when ace Gerrit Cole isn’t on the mound? Jordan Montgomery lasted 3⅓ innings, giving up seven runs (five earned) when he was mercifully pulled.

You want to see a malfunctioning lineup? The Yankees managed just four hits against Mets starter Tylor Megill, who looked like Jacob deGrom with the way he dominated the lineup, striking out a career-high 10 batters in seven innings.

You want to see embarrassing defense? Well, all you had to do was keep your eye on catcher Gary Sanchez. He was standing at home plate holding the baseball on a perfect throw from left fielder Joey Gallo, simply awaiting Jonathan Villar to arrive. Villar was still 20 feet away and all Sanchez had to do was tag him. Well, Sanchez tagged him all right, but only after he already crossed home plate. It was easily the worst tag by any catcher you’ll ever see.

“Obviously, he’s going to be out easy,’’ Boone said. “I think because he was so out, he thought he’d pull up.’’

If that wasn’t comical enough, Sanchez decided to keep his foot on home plate on a force play at home with Gio Urshela’s throw going wide in the third inning. The ball fly sailed past Sanchez to the backstop, allowing Francisco Lindor to score. Oh, and there was shortstop Gleyber Torres’ error on a routine double-play ball that accounted for another run.

You name it, the Yankees stunk at it.

Boone saw enough to want to scream to the high heavens.

“Of course, there’s frustration,’’ Boone said. “We’re playing for a lot. When you pour your heart and soul into something, and you’re not playing up to your capabilities, it’s incredibly tough. It’s part of this game and the toughness you have to have. You’ve got to be able to handle it, turn the page, and compete.

“It’s been challenging for us just because of the ups and downs. The story changes quickly if we play up to our capabilities.’’

The Yankees at least finally had a lead in this game, which lasted all of one inning, but they’ve been a mess. They are averaging just three runs a game in their last 13 games, hitting .236 with only 24 extra-base hits and 14 homers. During their 13-game winning streak, they hit .256, averaging 5.77 runs a game with 25 homers.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery leaves the mound after being taken out of the game in the fourth inning after giving up seven runs against the Mets.

New York Yankees starting pitcher Jordan Montgomery leaves the mound after being taken out of the game in the fourth inning after giving up seven runs against the Mets.

The Yankees have 21 games to get it right, and they do have 10 consecutive games against the Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles, Cleveland, and Texas Rangers after this Subway Series. They also finish the year with nine consecutive games against Boston, Toronto and Tampa. The Yankees are just 28-35 against AL East teams.

Call it a push.

And if they do earn a wild-card berth, how long can they possibly last?


“I am confident we can come out of it,’’ Boone says. “Our best baseball is ahead, that’s our focus. I’m confident it can happen. We feel like we’re going to do something special as a team.’’

It has become the same refrain game after game, night after night, only in a different venue.

You can have all of the team meetings you want, but if the play on the field doesn’t improve, all you’re doing is straining your vocal cords.

“I think we need to get back to having fun, playing loose,’’ Montgomery said, “and just go right after teams. We know we’re talented. We just came off a [13-]game winning streak, that just doesn’t happen. We want to get out of this.’’

The Yankees, on paper, have too much talent to be home in October.

Then again, when you watch them perform like they did Friday, you wonder if they even deserve to be playing in October.

Three weeks remain for the Yankees to show how they want to be remembered.

Follow Bob Nightengale on Twitter: @Bnightengale

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: New York Yankees continue slide vs. Mets as they drop seventh straight

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