The only cheers Aaron Hicks heard each game came after he caught a routine, fifth-inning fly ball. The Bronx crowd was sarcastically proud, and the fan base may have found their next Joey Gallo.
Hicks wrestled with his glove, allowing a catchable ball to fall to enable the Rays’ first runand a bat, grounding into a bases-loaded double play, in the Yankees. 4-0 loss on Monday.
“Just really embarrassing overall,” Hicks said after his misplay and failure several times in the clutch. “Even if I’m not hitting, I want my defense to be right. I messed up out there too.”
Hicks’ bad night started in the second inning, when he struck out with two outs and runners on first and second base in a scoreless game. Hicks is batting .173 with runners in scoring position this season, which was the fifth-worst in baseball after the game ended.
In the top of the fourth inning, Hicks’ night went from disappointing to distressing.
To lead off the frame, Tampa Bay’s David Peralta drove a high fly ball to center field that Hicks misjudged. He continued to drift back and spun on the warning track. He pounced at the last second for the ball, which bounced on the dirt and went for a triple. Isaac Paredes’ RBI single then put the Rays ahead to stay.
“Obviously a play that needs to be made,” manager Aaron Boone said, to which Hicks agreed.
“I turned the wrong way and tried to recover,” said Hicks, who then had trouble determining where the ball would end up. “That was running that Gerrit [Cole] should not have dealt with.”
Hicks could have found redemption in the bottom of the inning, but a harrowing night turned disastrous.
The Yankees, down 1-0 because of Hicks’ glove, loaded the bases with one out for their No. 9 hitter. Hicks hit a pinch hitter back to pitcher Ryan Yarbrough, who threw to catcher Francisco Mejia, who relayed to first baseman Ji-Man Choi for the inning-ending double play.
The boos hit their apex as Hicks looked down in frustration. Hicks acknowledged that it’s harder to bounce back when taunts follow him everywhere.
“It’s not nice to hear boos, but when you’re having a season like I’m having, that’s how it goes. Especially here,” said Hicks, who is 2-for-22 in his past six games and 5-for-42 (.119) this month. “They want results.”
The double play was Hicks’ fourth with the bases loaded, the most in baseball this season.
Hicks got one more at-bat, and he was greeted with boos on a step up and sent off with boos after a ground out, lowering his OPS to .644.
Boone, without naming names, repeatedly refers to “a couple of individuals who are struggling a bit with their faith right now.”
Currently, Hicks is the only answer for a club that does not want to play Aaron Judge often in center field.
It’s possible Harrison Bader returns from the injured list next month, but the return from the Jordan Montgomery trade deals with plantar fasciitis. He is in a walking boot and may be about two weeks away from resuming baseball activities.
It seems as if the Yankee Stadium crowd would prefer lame Bader to take over center field.