Aaron Boone’s right: Yankees need to step it up for stretch run


Challenge answered on one rain-shortened night.

The Yankees have reached that portion of their schedule during which they must turn it up a notch after a long period of mediocre baseball.

So bring on the terrible teams.

“I think it’s important for guys to understand that we are getting near to the final six weeks,’’ Aaron Boone said before the Yankees’ 7-5 rain-shortened victory over the Blue Jays. “I have had no issue with the guys’ focus and approach and preparation. That needs to continue to be there and maybe heightened a little bit as we start to drive down the stretch here.’’

For the mild-mannered Boone that is essentially a fire and brimstone comment.

His Yankees promptly went out and fell behind 4-0 in the first inning, but came back to beat the dreadful Blue Jays on another rainy night at Yankee Stadium, showing the kind of grit it is going to take to lead them where they want to go.

Yankees bats come alive in rain-shortened win over Blue Jays
Yankees bats come alive in rain-shortened win over Blue Jays
The game was called with one out in the bottom of the seventh after a one-hour, 25-minute rain delay.

Sure, the Yankees own a 76-46 record, but it’s time to get a little more serious with such pitiful teams as the Marlins, Orioles, White Sox and Tigers following the weekend series against the Blue Jays.

Especially with the 1998 World Championship Yankees in the house on Saturday. That ’98 team was super talented, but also showed super grit — and that’s what these Yankees need to show.

Take advantage of the other team’s weaknesses.

“It was a good test for us, we took a gut punch and punched right back,’’ said Giancarlo Stanton, who lifted his 31st home run and 298th of his career in the seventh, a 435-foot shot to right-center.

That thunder brought rain and after a strikeout by the next batter, Aaron Hicks, play was stopped.

The victory puts the Yankees at 14-14 since July 14 and 26-24 since June 21 when they held a two-game lead over the Red Sox. Yes, that long ago.