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Justin Verlander, Mets hand Yankees another embarrassing loss as trade deadline looms

With every dispiriting loss, the Yankees move further and further away from looking like buyers at the 2023 trade deadline.

Domingo German of the New York Yankees reacts after surrendering a sixth-inning home run against Daniel Vogelbach of the New York Mets at Yankee Stadium on July 25, 2023 in the Bronx borough of New York City. Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

If Hal Steinbrenner, Brian Cashman and Co. were looking for a sign from this New York Yankees team ahead of the 2023 trade deadline, well, they’ve gotten one — just not in the direction they’d hoped.

New York’s second half swoon reached a humiliating new low on Tuesday night, as the Yankees kicked off the final Subway Series of the season by getting thrashed, 9-3, by the rival Mets in their home ballpark. To add insult to injury, the Bombers yet again had absolutely no answer for Justin Verlander, as the righty continued his recent strong form with six shutout innings. (For those keeping score at home, Tuesday’s outing lowered Verlander’s ERA against the Yankees since being traded to the Astros in 2018 to a microscopic 1.99.)

Verlander is just the latest starter to dominate this depleted Yankees lineup of late, joining the likes of such luminaries as Dean Kremer, Jameson Taillon, Austin Gomber, Chase Anderson, and Chase Silseth. Domingo German coughed up four early runs, and at that point, the game felt more or less over. The Mets would tack on plenty of insurance — even getting back-to-back homers in the sixth from Pete Alonso and Daniel Vogelbach — but the final few innings were merely a formality.

The loss drops the Yankees to 8-12 in July, 17-23 since Aaron Judge went down at the beginning of June. New York is still five games above .500 and just three back of the Toronto Blue Jays in the loss column for the final AL Wild Card spot, and yet somehow things feel so much more dire than those numbers would suggest. This game was a tidy encapsulation of everything that’s gone wrong for New York over the past couple of months — a completely moribund offense, starting pitching that simply isn’t good enough beyond Gerrit Cole — and it played out on national TV, against a crosstown rival who’d also been struggling of late.

It’s the sort of loss that feels like a referendum, and with now less than a week to go until the 2023 trade deadline, it’ll be fascinating to see what Cashman and Co. decide to do. The Yankees can’t afford to be sellers — Cole and Judge aren’t getting any younger — but what about the way this team has played over the last couple of months suggests that they’re capable of any kind of significant run? This isn’t a fluke, or a cold spell; this is simply an aging, mediocre roster, and while Cashman and Aaron Boone keep pointing to the names on the injured list and the resumes of guys like Giancarlo Stanton and Anthony Rizzo, you can only keep up that insistence for so long.