Brett Gardner admitted the obvious: The Yankees are playing poor baseball and he isn’t getting it done.
“The way that we’ve played lately is not acceptable,” the veteran outfielder said. “We just have to find a way to be better — myself included.”
With so many Yankees struggling, manager Aaron Boone inserted Gardner into the third spot in the batting order — the spot in the lineup usually reserved for a team’s best hitter — but it didn’t help.
Gardner went hitless and the Yankees fell to the Orioles, 5-1, at Camden Yards, losing for the 13th time in 18 games. In the last 21 innings of the series at the hitter-friendly ballpark, the Yankees managed just two runs.
Like most of his teammates, Gardner is in an offensive funk, with just four hits in his last 26 at-bats, without a home run since Aug. 5 and a dismal slash line of .180/.308/.326 and a .634 OPS.
Of course, the Yankees have spent much of this shortened season without the big bats of Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, not to mention losing key parts like Gio Urshela and Gleyber Torres for lengthy stretches. But they dealt with a ton of injuries last year, too, and still won the AL East.
The difference was the backups thrived. One of those players was Gardner, who homered 28 times and posted an .829 OPS, both career-highs. He’s been unable to come close to that production. He’s struck out 26 times this year — in just 89 at-bats — at the age of 37.
“Obviously, we’ve got some guys out of our lineup, and when you’ve got guys missing, other guys need to step up and pull their weight and try their best to fill in,” Gardner said. “Obviously, I’ve been one of those guys I feel like [we’ve] relied on a little bit more heavily than maybe we would’ve thought coming into the season, and I’m disappointed I haven’t done better. I’m disappointed I haven’t done more. It’s not for a lack of trying.”
The one positive Gardner has taken is that he feels healthy, and when his body feels right, results tend to follow. He even was able to get in a lot of extra swings on Sunday before the loss, which is something he hasn’t always been able to do in recent years.
“I don’t feel far off,” he said. “Just continue to enjoy my time with my teammates, keep going out there and playing on a daily basis and try and step my game up and collectively have some better at-bats.”