"I feel like this road trip would've gone a lot differently if just a couple things had gone our way," outfielder Brett Gardner said. "Sometimes we didn't come up with the big hit or make the right pitch, or play the right defense. We just came up short."
Manager Joe Girardi said the fact that the team is being so competitive is equally encouraging and frustrating: "It's not like we're getting blown out, and I think you worry a little bit more. But when you lose tight games, it probably upsets you a little bit more. It's kind of a little bit of both."
It's the first six-game skid for the Yankees since last year, when they lost six in a row on the road from April 26-May 3. It's also the first time they have been swept in a four-game series in Oakland since July 19-22, 2012. For veteran Matt Holliday, who homered Sunday, the way a team responds to a losing stretch will be key.
"I think these are times where you find out what you're made of as a team," Holliday said. "The season's not going to go easily. There's going to be ups and downs, and we're in a little bit of a downturn … I think we have handled what's come our way really well so far. We've just come up on the short end on this road trip, but I don't think it's for lack of effort or poor play. It just hasn't gone our way."
The team is off Monday, which is a welcome sight to many, but perhaps most important to the bullpen. The Yankees -- who open a six-game homestand Tuesday against the Angels -- used only relievers for the final game of the last homestand June 11, then saw their bullpen throw 23 innings over the seven-game road trip.
Despite the rough road trip, the Yanks remain in first place in the American League East, something Gardner pointed out as a welcome sign.
"If you had told me that it'd be [June 18] and we'd be in first place, I'd have signed up for that," Gardner said. "I think everybody would rather be eight or 10 games up right now, but it's just not too realistic in the division we're in. We have to fight every day, and everybody in this room understands that."
Alex Simon is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @alexsimon99. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.