Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Yankees Blow Chance to Build On Recent Gains

The Yankees were on a roll. Now, the roll has mold on it.

On Friday night, they began a 3-game home series with the Detroit Tigers. CC Sabathia was partying like it's 2009: 7 innings, no runs, 5 hits, 2 walks. Dellin Betances pitched a perfect 8th, and Anthony Swarzak a scoreless 9th.

Mike Pelfrey and Tiger reliever Blaine Hardy (the name sounds like a soap opera character) were far from equal to the task. In the 1st inning, Pelfrey allowed back-to-back singles by Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran, and then back-to-back walks to Alex Rodriguez and Brian McCann to force in a run. Starlin Castro struck out, but Didi Gregorius doubled home Beltran and A-Rod. 3-0 Yankees.

Gardner walked in the 3rd, and a failed pickoff got him all the way to 3rd. Beltran singled him home, and that was it for the scoring. Yankees 4, Tigers 0. WP: Sabathia (4-4). No save. LP: Pelfrey (1-6).


The Yankees had won 6 straight, and were a game above .500. But on Saturday, things began to fall apart again. Justin Verlander has had a bad season so far, but he can never be written off, and he pitched very well. And Francisco Rodriguez -- yes, K-Rod, the nemesis from the 2002 Anaheim Angels -- pitched much better for the Tigers than did that other ex-Met, Pelfrey. Aside from an RBI single by Rob Refsnyder in the 3rd, the Yankees never really got going.

In contrast, Masahiro Tanaka did not have his good stuff. He got into the 7th inning, but allowed 5 runs. Tigers 6, Yankees 1. WP: Verlander (6-5). SV: Rodriguez (18). LP: Tanaka (3-2).


Sunday was Old-Timers' Day. The first one since the death of Yogi Berra, leaving Whitey Ford as the most-honored living Yankee. Fellow Hall-of-Famers Reggie Jackson and Goose Gossage also attended. The 1996 Yankees were honored on their 20th Anniversary, although Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, Wade Boggs and Jim Leyritz weren't there. (This past week was the Yankees' annual HOPE Week, and Rivera did attend a connected event on Monday.)

Hideki Matsui (who didn't arrive until 2003, and isn't all that old, only 42) hit a home run off David Cone in the Old-Timers' Game. Reggie was on base at the time. Unfortunately, that homer was the highlight of the day.

Michael Pineda put together his 3rd straight decent start, going 6 innings, allowing 2 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 8.

But the Yankees were already down 2-0 after 6. Aaron Hicks doubled to lead off the 3rd, and Austin Romine did the same in the 5th, but each was stranded. The Yankees loaded the bases with 2 out in the 5th, but Beltran flew out to blow the chance. Michael Fulmer, a 23-year-old rookie, the stereotypical "pitcher the Yankees have never seen before," shut them down.

Then Joe Girardi looked at his pitch count, saw that it was 114, and decided that Pineda could not be allowed to continue. And Girardi replaced Pineda with Swarzak, who allowed a homer that made it 4-0, and essentially put the game out of reach.

In the 8th, a single by Jacoby Ellsbury, a walk by Beltran and a single by Chase Headley got the Yankees on the board, but that was it. Tigers 4, Yankees 1. WP: Fulmer (7-1). SV: Rodriguez (19). LP: Pineda (3-7).


It's 10 weeks into a 26-week season, and the Yankees still haven't really gotten going. They're 31-32, 5 1/2 games (6 in the loss column) behind the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Eastern Division.

The Yankees are now in Denver for 2 games against the Colorado Rockies. Here are the projected starting pitchers:

* Tonight, 8:40 PM: Nathan Eovaldi vs. De La Rosa.

* Tomorrow, 3:10 PM: Ivan Nova vs. Bettis

Then it's 4 in Minneapolis against the Minnesota Twins. Pitching matchups have not yet been set.

The Yankees have to get back to that good run they were on that ended on Saturday, and stay on it. The occasional loss won't hurt much. Runs of 5 wins in 6 games, 8 in 10, 12 in 16, will put the Yankees in a position to make a run at the AL East.

But time is running out. They can't blow another chance.

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