New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone wants to see a little more fire from his club as it tries to break out of a slump that continued with a 4-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday night.
"We should be ticked off right now, and we need to start playing better," Boone told reporters. "Plain and simple."
The Yanks, who owned MLB's best record at the All-Star break last month (64-28), have gone 9-19 so far in the second half, including 14 losses in their past 18 games.
New York's bats, which were virtually unstoppable at points throughout the season's first four months, have gone ice cold in August. The club has been shut out three times in its past six contests, and its scored more than three runs just once over the past 10 outings.
Boone explained after Friday's loss that there are only so many things he can say amid the skid, but he remains confident a turnaround is on the horizon.
"We can sit here, and I can keep answering questions and talk about it ... but we've got to go do it," he said. "And the good news is we've got all the pieces in that room to do that. I know that's coming. I know it's going to happen, but it really sucks going through it."
The Yankees did receive some good news Friday when Boone announced outfielder Giancarlo Stanton is set to begin a rehab assignment Saturday. The slugger tallied 24 home runs in 80 games before landing on the injured list with Achilles tendinitis in late July.
Getting Stanton back to provide some added middle-of-the-order protection for MVP candidate Aaron Judge could be the spark the Bronx Bombers desperately need.
That's still a handful of days away, however, and the Yanks' lead in the AL East has shrunk from a seemingly insurmountable 15.5 games to a less certain eight games over the Blue Jays. It could be down to six if Toronto takes the last two matchups in this weekend's series.
"I don't give a crap about the [divisional] lead," Boone said. "Play better. We'll handle it. You can talk about that—eight, nine, seven, 10—we need to play better. If we play like this, it's not going to matter anyway. We handle our business, we're in a great spot. We understand that. But we need to handle our business."
Nevertheless, the pressure is really starting to mount on the Yankees to right the ship to prevent an unprecedented second-half collapse.