NEW YORK (AP) — “How We Do” blared from the clubhouse speakers as disco lights flashed to the rap. Aaron Judge took over the wrestling championship belt that Anthony Volpe had held since the rookie’s three-run homer sparked a win at Miami on Aug. 11.
“He’s never going to get the belt back again if it’s going to lead to eight, nine losses in a row,” Judge said with a playful smile.
Despite a feel-good 9-1 victory over Washington on Wednesday night that ended the Yankees’ first nine-game losing streak in 41 years, New York (61-65) is 9 1/2 games back of a playoff berth and on track to end its streak of winning seasons at 30.
“That ain’t going to hit a 95 mph fastball worrying about the standings,” Judge said. “We’ve got to focus on what we can control here on the field and show up every single day.”
Before the first three-homer game of Judge’s major league career, general manager Brian Cashman said the team was “really obviously disappointed, frustrated, angered.”
“I don’t think anybody wants to go out in front of 40,000 people and lay an egg,” he said — an image late New York Daily News cartoonist Bill Gallo would have relished.
New York remains without a World Series appearance since winning the 2009 title. Injuries certainly impacted plans.
New York’s projected rotation of Gerrit Cole, Carlos Rodón, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Domingo Germán started 79 of the first 126 games. Yankees starters are 36-40 with a 4.72 ERA that is 23rd among the 30 teams. Yankees batters rank 29th in batting average at .229 and 24th in runs with 533.
Slugger Giancarlo Stanton has 45 RBIs in 76 games, also missing substantial time with a bad hamstring. He has been sidelined by injuries in 11 of the past 14 seasons.
First baseman Anthony Rizzo was hitting .172 with one homer and nine RBIs following a collision with San Diego’s Fernando Tatis Jr. on May 28, sustaining a concussion that was not diagnosed until he was put on the injured list on Aug. 3. Rizzo has 41 RBIs in 99 games overall.
Judge, coming off an AL-record 62 homers and an MVP award, is hitting .279 with 27 homers and 54 RBIs in 72 games. He missed nearly eight weeks after spraining his right big toe against the Dodger Stadium fence on June 3 and returned before the injury fully healed.
“We are what our record says we are. We’re certainly not proud of it. It’s been a disaster of a season and we’re embarrassed by it,” Cashman said. “We’ve learned that with what hit us when that storm hit us, that we didn’t have enough to sustain or maintain and it sunk us.”
Cashman, 56, has been general manager since 1998 and agreed last December to a four-year contract. Aaron Boone took over as manager before the 2018 season and the 50-year-old has one more guaranteed season in a three-year deal that includes a team option for 2025.
“I think we’re all going to be evaluated, including myself,” Cashman said.
“I think we’ve got a pretty good track record,” he added. “We’ve had a real good run of success. … I’ll do everything I can to try to clean it up and fix what is broken.”