ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Yankees pull into Citi Field Monday night with one spoke remaining from the Holy Trinity of Smoke after trading Aroldis Chapman a week ago and Andrew Miller Sunday.
While manager Joe Girardi said he believes the jolt of energy provided by the fans during Subway Series action might get his lethargic club out of a very deep funk, there is no denying the two games in Queens against the Mets and the two in The Bronx Wednesday and Thursday lost a lot of luster in six days.
By the time the lowly Rays put the wrappings on a 5-3 Yankees’ loss Sunday in front of 18,109 at Tropicana Field, Miller had been Indians property for hours after he was swapped for a quartet of prospects. Chapman went to the Cubs Monday for three prospects and Adam Warren.
The loss was the 52-52 Yankees’ fourth straight and meant they stuffed a sweep by the Rays into the equipment bags headed for Citi Field. It also dropped them seven lengths back of the AL East-leading Orioles, who hold a one-half game lead over the Blue Jays.
The way the three losses to the Rays went, Chapman wouldn’t have gotten off the bullpen seat and Miller didn’t stir in the first two games. Dellin Betances, now the third closer this year, wasn’t needed Sunday.
While Michael Pineda (5-10) wasn’t great — five runs and six hits in six innings — the Yankees bats were again the culprits. During the four-game losing streak, the Yankees scored eight runs.
Flat isn’t a word that can be used to describe the way the Yankees played in the aftermath of the Miller trade because they have been flat for most of the season. A .500 record 104 games in is a strong indication of that.
“Obviously they lost a good friend,’’ Girardi said of the personable Miller, who players flocked to for advice or a laugh. “We got a couple of guys on at first and we had our chances today and we just didn’t get the huge hit.’’
During the four-game losing streak, the Yankees are batting .182 (4-for-22) with runners in scoring position. In their last 71 at-bats they have 13 hits for a .183 average in the clutch.
Blake Snell (3-4), a rookie lefty, allowed two runs and five hits in 5 ¹/₃ innings. He worked around a leadoff walk by Brett Gardner in the first by striking out Carlos Beltran and Starlin Castro. With the bases loaded in the fourth and one out, Snell fed Didi Gregorius a 4-6-3 double-play ball. One batter after Beltran hit a two-run homer in the sixth, Snell was hooked for Xavier Cedeno. Brian McCann’s opposite-field RBI single in the eighth cut it to 5-3 but Chase Headley followed with a 4-6-3 double play against Erasmo Ramirez.
General manager Brian Cashman and Girardi insist there won’t be a white flag flying over the team bus that carries the Yankees from The Bronx to Queens Monday, but after trading two closers within a week it’s difficult to argue with those who believe the deals that added respected prospects to the system aren’t signs of surrender for this year.
The Yankees said all the right things in a very solemn clubhouse before and after the latest loss.
“This is a business and we have to be professional, be a team that tries to compete and win,’’ said Beltran, a trade candidate eagerly awaiting Monday’s 4 p.m. deadline. “At the end of the day we have a commitment.’’
But not Chapman and Miller.
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