August 16, 2023 | 8:27 pm
ATLANTA — It was a move out of desperation, red meat thrown at an angry fan.
The Yankees firing hitting coach Dillon Lawson at the All-Star break and hiring Sean Casey was like the struggling football team turning to the backup quarterback.
In most cases, this does not work. He doesn’t have one for the Yankees.
Their offensive production was nearly identical under Casey as it was under Lawson.
In the first half, the Yankees hit a .231/.301/.410 slash.
Since Lawson was fired, he is hitting .232/.325/.376 entering the final game of a three-game series at Truist Park against the Braves on Wednesday night.
With a slightly better on-base percentage, worse slugging and a lower OPS (.711 to .701).
They have averaged 3.9 runs per game since Casey took over, compared to 4.4 before.
“At the end of the day, we’ve just got to keep putting pressure on the starter and we’ve got to keep scoring runs,” Casey told The Post. “In this league, you have to be able to score runs at all levels because the pitching is so good and we’re playing the Braves right now. This is a team that can hit. So you have to be able to put guys on base and then get them inside. When we get guys out there, they’re in scoring position, we’ve got to find ways to put them in.”
Manager Aaron Boone said he has seen improvements in some areas, particularly the Yankees getting better at-bats and making it tougher on the opposing starting pitcher.
Consistency, however, has eluded them, as they alternate strong performances with shaky ones.
They are currently in a mini-funk, scoring three runs in the last 21 innings. In Tuesday’s loss, which dropped them to .500, the Yankees managed just one hit against Braves right-hander Bryce Elder, who entered the contest having allowed 10 earned runs in his previous 9 ¹/3 innings and two innings of relief.
“I think we’ve had stretches where we’ve done a better job the last few weeks of having those heavy at-bats, wearing down the pitcher, which has probably hurt us a little bit this year and has been going on for a while, honestly,” Boone said. “But I feel like there’s been stretches here over the last few weeks where we’ve had three or four decent games together where we’ve been pushing it a little bit harder on the field, giving ourselves some chances and some. I broke. We’re still not quite over it, but that’s also a product of where we are in terms of injuries. I’m trying to get some kids healthy.”
It’s all new for the 49-year-old Casey and it’s hard to blame him for the lineup’s struggles.
He had never been a hitting coach before, even though he was an accomplished player, a three-time All-Star and a member of the Reds Hall of Fame. Despite the results, Casey said he likes the job and it’s something he could see himself doing for a long time.
“I’m really enjoying it at the moment,” he said. “I have to reassess probably at the end of the year. I really enjoy doing what I do. Just being a part of the Yankees organization was incredible.”
It would clearly be even more incredible if the results were better.
Casey said he believes that will change because of how hard the players work and the determination he sees on a daily basis. But, this could just be one of those times where things just don’t click.
“I’ve played this game long enough to know that sometimes you have incredible years and sometimes you have average years and sometimes you have years you’d like to forget,” Casey said. “For us at the moment, it’s a matter of having 40 games to go. We’re still at it. We just have to be able to be really good for the next 40 games and hopefully we can put ourselves in a position to get to the postseason.”
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