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BOSTON — It’s been a long time since the Yankees woke up chasing another team, but that is what happened Friday morning. Having lost seven of their last eight games, while the Bombers were off on Thursday,  the Astros passed them for the best record in the American League.

So, the Yankees, who begin a three-game series here with the Red Sox Friday, do not have the best record in baseball for the first time since April 27.

A team that was once on pace to challenge the MLB single-season wins record (116) is now limping into the final turn with 50 games left in the regular season.

“They are a very good team,” one rival executive said. “They were never invincible. They are still a very good team. Everyone goes through rough stretches. This has been a little longer than expected and it’s exposed their weaknesses.”

While all teams do have rough spots in their season, the Yankees have had some red flags in their slide. The Yankees after dominating the competition have recently shown their pitching is stretched a little thin and their offense, built on power hitters, is prone to streaks of hot and very cold.

First and foremost how they measure up against playoff contenders has proven worrisome for a team with World Series-or-bust intentions.

They began the traditional second half of the season, the post All-Star break half, being swept by the Astros in a doubleheader in Houston. They came out of that saying Minute Maid Park was  a place where  they’d like to play a  minimal number of games in October — that can only be avoided if the Yankees finish ahead of the Astros in the regular-season standings.

That loss set a tone. In 13 games against teams that are currently in position to make the playoffs, the Yankees are 2-11.

They are 24-22 against playoff teams on the season.

The bullpen has taken some big hits this season with the losses of Michael King (fractured elbow) and Chad Green (Tommy John surgery) and it’s showing later. They still have the second-lowest ERA (2.98), but there have been warning signs. Jonathan Loaisiga and Aroldis Chapman have been unreliable, allowing Clay Holmes to step into the role of closer. He was the best reliever in baseball before the break, but in his last 11 outings, Holmes has an 8.44 ERA with nine walks and five hit batters over 10 2/3 innings. He has blown two saves in his last three chances.

The Yankees have their hands tied with their bullpen right now. They have no one in the bullpen right now they can option to bring in help. It would have to be an injury at this point.

And they have limited arms available ready to help after using their upper level pitching prospects in trades.

Ron Marinaccio, who has been one of their more effective relievers, has proven he can help at the big league level, but he lost his spot on the 26-man roster when the Yankees acquired Frankie Montas. Other than Marinaccio and Clarke Schmidt, the Yankees traded away any high-level pitch prospects that could have helped.

While the Yankees still lead the AL in runs scored and lead the major in home runs with 190, their offense has been erratic. Over the last 22 innings in Seattle, the Bombers scored four runs. They were without Anthony Rizzo for four days while he battled with lower back tightness for the second time in a month. They also are missing Giancarlo Stanton, who has been on the injured list since July 24 with Achilles tendinitis. They have also lost Matt Carpenter, who had been a lefty-hitting spark for the offense, for at least a month after he fractured his foot in Seattle.

Looking ahead, the Yankees can hope to get something of a respite here in Boston against the flailing Red Sox, but their schedule ahead is littered with playoff contenders. They also have the Rays six more times, the Blue Jays for six more games, the Brewers and Twins.

The Astros, meanwhile, have the third-weakest strength of schedule in baseball down the stretch with 16 against the Angels, A’s, and Tigers.

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News Source: mercurynews.com

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Udonis Haslem Sends Strong Message About New Heat Rookie Nikola Jovic

Getty Nikola Jovic #5 of the Miami Heat poses during the 2022 NBA Rookie Portraits

The Miami Heat were in multiple reports to be looking to add a star player to team up with Jimmy Butler. Miami was reported with interest in acquiring Kevin Durant from the Brooklyn Nets and Donovan Mitchell from the Utah Jazz. There were others, but all of their pursuits looked to be a bit overblown. Now, we head into the 2022-23 NBA season with training camp and the preseason underway and the only real addition that the team made has been with their draft pick Nikola Jovic. 

The Heat officially selected the Serbian star Jovic with their No. 27 overall pick for the 2022 NBA Draft and the move was applauded by many. Jovic can has been playing for a long time and can do it all for the Heat, but most importantly the newly drafted forward can shoot and brings that to this Heat squad. 

Jovic is already making a strong impression in Heat training camp and he’s impressing the right people with the head of Heat Culture, Udonis Haslem singing his praises during the teams camp period. 

Udonis Haslem on Nikola Jovic at Training Camp

Haslem who has been in the NBA a whole year longer than Jovic has been alive shared his thoughts with Payton Titus of the Miami Herald on the Heat’s newest addition and his “tremendous skill set.” He also lauded the rookie forward as a “hard worker,” which is high praise coming from Haslem. 

“[Jović] can score anywhere on the basketball court, can shoot with either hand, hard worker,” Haslem said. “Just experience, you know, experience is going to be the biggest thing that he’s going to need is this time over here working with us. The practice every day, competing, the physicality of it, getting in the weight room. And all those things are part of player development that we do very well here.”

The Jovic praise is everything you want to hear from your veteran leader on the teams newest rookie. It’s been clear that Jovic is a developmental player and it is unclear what time he will see this season, but he looks to be a player the Heat can count on in years to come.

Nikola Jovic on Adjusting to the NBA

Jovic in a conversation with Payton Titus of the Miami Herald, said that the NBA players are on “another level” when it comes to strength, which he has made a priority of adding in his new NBA life. 

“Because I’m big, I’m gonna play with big guys,” he said. “Putting on muscle is integral to him becoming the player he and the Heat feel he needs to in order to best help the team.”

Erik Spoelstra on Nikola Jovic’s Move to the NBA

Miami Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra was also quoted by Titus sharing what the team has been working on with Jovic to help him adjust to life in the NBA. From everything to schedule and routine and fundamentals.

“It’s laying the foundation,” Spoelstra said. “He has a lot of work to do. We all love his spirit. He comes in with a positive attitude every day to work and assimilate a little bit better. He’s spent a lot of time on his body. He’s also spending a lot of time on his fundamentals, and then he gets fed through a fire hose of the team schematics. But he’s been responding well. I’m not trying to evaluate him right now. I’m just trying to get him comfortable with the routine and the expectations of how we do things.”

Jovic is certainly in good hands with the Heat, who have proven time and time again to be able to develop their players into key pieces of the team in short periods of time. 

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