5-10 start has Yankees restless; Brian Cashman vows to stay course

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NEW YORK — The New York Yankees’ players and staff are restless. So are fans.

A 5-10 start, the franchise’s worst in 24 years, has shaken a team that expects to contend for a World Series title.

“Right now we would be a team that an opponent would want to play because obviously we’re not firing on all cylinders,” general manager Brian Cashman said Monday. “So if you have a chance to catch us right now, you’re catching us at the right time, through obviously yesterday’s games, and we look forward to that changing.”

Batting, pitching and fielding have faltered.

New York’s .210 batting average is next-to-last in the American League, and a team with a dearth of left-handed hitters is batting just .202 against right-handed pitchers. The Yankees’ 55 runs entering Monday tied Detroit for the AL low.

Ace Gerrit Cole is 2-1 with a 1.82 ERA and the rest of New York’s starters are 1-6 with a 6.39 ERA.

Twelve errors have led to 10 unearned runs.

Only the bullpen, which has a 2.43 ERA that is third best in the major leagues, has performed to expectations.

“There’s a lot of tossing and turning going on,” Cashman said, “but we’re going to do everything in our power to avoid that finger pointing or having those frustrations boil over into something negative and make sure that we just rally the troops around each other and try to be there in a strong, supportive way, because right now we earned any negative criticism.”

Cashman accepts the carping – but said it was unacceptable and illegal for fans to throw balls on the field during Friday’s 8-2 loss to Tampa Bay, which caused the game to be stopped for 2 minutes, 15 seconds.

“I don’t care how bad you’ve played, no one has earned having things thrown at them on the field in that one particular game,” he said. “But ultimately, the rest of it is, yeah, it’s part of the process, too. When you play bad, you’re going to hear about it. When you don’t live up to your expectations or your fans’ expectations or your own expectations, you’re going to hear it. And it’s about doing something about it as you move forward.”

New York has lost five consecutive games going into Tuesday’s interleague series opener against Atlanta. A loss would drop the Yankees to 5-11 for the first time since 1972.

Cashman thought back to other slow starts. In 1997, the Yankees lost 10 of their first 15 games and finished 96-66 and earned a wild-card berth.

“I don’t remember any of those because ultimately we got back on track,” he said. “We got through it. We found a way to be ourselves and be what we’re capable of.”

Jay Bruce, who announced his retirement Sunday, spoke to the team before his final game and reminded them “about the game’s ups and downs and trying to stay consistent and staying together while you’re going through the tough times,” according to Cashman.

While manager Aaron Boone may shake up the lineup a little, Cashman isn’t planning major roster changes.

Nearly the entire batting order is slumping: Aaron Hicks (.160, including 3 for 32 right-handed), Clint Frazier (.167, no RBIs), Giancarlo Stanton (.176, three homers, 12 RBIs), Gleyber Torres (.196), Gary Sanchez (.237), Gio Urshela (.250) and Aaron Judge (.255, four homers, eight RBIs).

First baseman Luke Voit is expected back in May following knee surgery. Bruce, his replacement, retired Sunday after hitting .118. DJ LeMahieu has moved to first, with Rougned Odor (.125) filling in at second.

Looking ahead, left-handed reliever Zack Britton is expected back in June after elbow surgery and Luis Severino in the summer following Tommy John surgery.

“I’m very proud of the fact that we’ve had a lot of storms hit along the way and change doesn’t happen without a great deal of thought and effort and reason behind it,” Cashman said. “We’re not reactive. And so I don’t see us reacting to how to shake the roster up too quickly. And I don’t see us reacting to not believing in the staff that we have and in the players we have, either.

“And that’s the message for our players: Hey, man, we do believe in you. We know what you’re capable of. This is a bad stretch. We’re going to get through this together. This isn’t us versus them. This is collectively all of us wearing this, including myself, and we’re going to have to find a way to get to it sooner than later so we can avoid having to feel the way we are right now and having our fans feel the way they are right now.”

Swanson, Olson go deep vs Scherzer, Braves take NL East lead

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ATLANTA — Dansby Swanson and Matt Olson homered off Max Scherzer, lifting the Atlanta Braves to a crucial 4-2 victory Saturday night over the New York Mets and a one-game lead in the NL East.

The defending World Series champions beat aces Jacob deGrom and Scherzer on consecutive nights to take their biggest lead of the season in the division. New York, which held a 10 1/2-game cushion on June 1, faces its biggest deficit of the year with four games remaining.

Atlanta will try for a three-game sweep Sunday night, with the winner earning the season-series tiebreaker between the teams. Even though both teams are headed to the postseason, that’s important because the NL East champion gets a first-round bye in the playoffs.

Swanson’s 24th homer, a go-ahead, two-run shot in the fifth inning, touched off a frenzy among the sold-out crowd at Truist Park, the ball sailing a few rows up into the seats in left-center to make it 3-2. Olson hit his 32nd homer in the sixth, a solo shot into Chop House seats in right to put Atlanta up 4-2.

Austin Riley led off the fourth with a double and scored on Olson’s single to make it 1-all.

Kyle Wright (21-5) gave up two runs and seven hits with one walk and three strikeouts in five innings as he won his eighth straight decision. The Braves have won 16 of his last 17 starts.

New York went up 2-1 in the fifth when Pete Alonso, Francisco Lindor and Jeff McNeil hit consecutive two-out singles.

The Mets led 1-0 in the first when Brandon Nimmo singled, advanced on a walk and a single and scored on Eduardo Escobar‘s groundout. Wright, who threw 30 pitches in the first, stranded two runners in scoring position to prevent further damage.

Scherzer (11-5) allowed a first-inning single to Riley and a third-inning infield single to Ronald Acuna Jr., who advanced to third on a fielding error by Lindor at shortstop but was stranded when Michael Harris II lined out to center. Scherzer patted his glove and pumped his fist as he walked off the mound.

Scherzer was charged with nine hits and four runs with no walks and four strikeouts in 5 2/3 innings as the Mets were knocked out of first place for only the third day all season.

The Braves have won five of the last six against New York to tie the season series 9-all, outscoring the Mets 37-16 over that stretch.

Atlanta’s bullpen, which posted a 1.70 ERA in September, got a perfect inning from Dylan Lee in the sixth. Jesse Chavez faced four batters in the seventh, Raisel Iglesias faced the minimum in the eighth and closer Kenley Jansen pitched a perfect ninth for his NL-leading 39th save in 46 chances.

Since the Braves were a season low-tying four games under .500 at 23-27 after play on May 31, they have gone 76-32, tying the Los Angeles Dodgers for the best record in the majors over that span. They were a season-worst 10 1/2 games behind the first-place Mets on June 1.

Wright, the only 20-game winner in baseball this season, hasn’t officially become the first Braves pitcher to lead the league in wins outright since Russ Ortiz had 21 in 2003, but the Dodgers’ Julio Urias has 17 and can’t reach 20 before the regular season ends.

Wright will become the first Braves pitcher since Hall of Famer Tom Glavine in 2000 to lead the majors in wins. Houston ace Justin Verlander also has 17.

Wright began the game 1-4 with a 6.75 ERA in six career starts and one relief appearance against the Mets.

The Braves, who got homers from Riley, Olson and Swanson off deGrom on Friday, lead the NL with 240 homers.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Mets: All-Star RF Starling Marte (right middle finger fracture) has yet to begin swinging or throwing. Manager Buck Showalter said Marte is experiencing less pain but not enough to take the next step in his recovery. Marte has been sidelined since Sept. 7.

Braves: RHP Spencer Strider still has not thrown as he gets treatment on a sore left oblique. Manager Brian Snitker said there is no timetable for the rookie’s return. Strider has been sidelined since Sept. 21.

NICE GLOVE

Harris ran back and jumped to catch Nimmo’s fly against the wall in center field for the first out of the third.

UP NEXT

Mets RHP Chris Bassitt (15-8, 3.27 ERA) will face RHP Charlie Morton (9-6, 4.29) as the teams conclude a three-game series.