Aaron Boone described Friday's team meeting as himself being ticked off at how the New York Yankees are playing.
The first game after the meeting produced a better showing but still resulted in another loss. The Yankees hope to salvage the finale of a three-game series with the Tampa Bay Rays Sunday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.
The Yankees are off to their first 5-9 start since 2016 when they made a late run to get 84 wins following a sell-off at the trade deadline. A loss on Sunday would give the Yankees a 5-10 start for the first time since 1997, when they recovered to win 96 games in manager Joe Torre's second season.
Boone believes this version of the team will come out of their early doldrums. He expressed confidence after Friday's 8-2 loss that featured fans throwing baseballs on the field during the eighth inning, and again following Saturday's 6-3 defeat.
"I felt like we were much more in the fight today, which is at least a good thing but we don't want moral victories right now," Boone said. "We want to start stringing it together, we want to start putting it together, especially offensively to where we can start running up some wins. But we got to start (to) play better obviously. Today was at least a step in that direction but we need to start getting results too."
The last two losses are part of a 2-7 skid where the Yankees have been outscored 49-31 and struck out 84 times.
Tampa Bay is looking to continue its domination of the Yankees after Francisco Mejia, Manuel Margot and Joey Wendle homered. The Rays are 14-3 in the past 17 regular-season meetings and including their win in the American League Division Series, they are 17-5 in the past 22 meetings with the Yankees.
Despite going 5-for-21 with runners in scoring position and striking out 23 times, the Rays have won the first games of the series after losing three straight to the Texas Rangers. Tampa Bay also is 7-1 in its past eight visits to Yankee Stadium.
"They've been uber-focused," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "This venue can motivate you really quick and whatever you're going through before you get here, you better find a way to wipe it out because you got to be at the top of your game to compete here."
Gerrit Cole (2-0, 1.47 ERA) will start for the Yankees and is hoping to deliver better results against the Rays. The right-hander is 0-3 with a 4.07 ERA in seven regular-season starts against Tampa Bay and 0-1 with a 4.96 ERA in three regular-season starts against the Rays since joining the Yankees.
Cole last pitched Monday when he allowed one run on three hits in six innings of a 3-1 win over the Toronto Blue Jays Monday in Dunedin, Fla. He struck out eight, marking his 12th straight start with at least seven strikeouts.
Andrew Kittredge (2-0, 1.69) will serve as the opener for Tampa Bay and Ryan Yarbrough is expected to pitch the bulk of the innings. The right-hander Kittredge has been the opener 11 times.
Kittredge is 2-1 with a 4.09 ERA in 17 career appearances against the Yankees.
The left-hander Yarbrough has a 6.48 ERA in three starts this season and is 3-2 with a 3.15 ERA in six career appearances against the Yankees.
--Field Level Media