Before this series between the Yankees and the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field, if you had told me the Yankees were going to take 3 out of 4, I would have gladly taken it.
And when they took the 1st 3, I was very pleased.
It's so much that they lost the 4th game, it's how.
Jameson Taillon started, and was fine for the 1st 3 innings, allowing just 1 baserunner, a single, and striking out the side in the 3rd inning.
Manager Aaron Boone tinkered with the batting order again. He put Brett Gardner in the leadoff spot, Giancarlo Stanton as the DH and batting 2nd, Aaron Judge 3rd, Rougned Odor at 2nd base and batting 4th, Gleyber Torres 5th, Gio Urshela 6th, Mike Ford at 1st base and batting 7th, Gary Sanchez 8th, and Mike Tauchman in left field and batting 9th.
And in the top of the 4th inning, this lineup looked like it might have paid off. Torres, who has really responded well to the criticism he faced earlier in the week, led off with a single. Urshela hit a home run to put the Yankees on the board. Then Odor hit one out, the first back-to-back home runs for the Yankees on the season -- in their 21st game. Which is an indication that general manager Brian Cashman's strategy of "Bomb the opposition out of the yard" hasn't worked too well.
Especially considering that the Indians not only erased that 3-0 lead in the bottom of the 4th, but took it. Taillon allowed single, single, single, home run, with Franmil Reyes' blast giving the Tribe a 4-3 lead.
The Yankees had their chances thereafter. Judge led off the 5th with a single, and advanced to 2nd on a groundout and 3rd on a wild pitch. Tauchman doubled and Frazier walked in the 6th. Odor reached on an error in the 7th. Sanchez was hit by a pitch in the 8th. None of them scored.
And if the Yankees had lost 4-3 like that, I wouldn't have liked it, but I could have lived with it. But that's not what happened.
Because, for the bottom of the 5th inning, Boone (almost certainly on the order of Cashman) brought in Nick Nelson. Yes, Nick Nelson, ol' Number 79, who pitches, as Colonel Sherman T. Potter (played by Harry Morgan) would have said on M*A*S*H, with all the efficiency of a one-legged man at a butt-kicking contest. Remember: The Yankees were only down by 1 run. But, to me, bringing Nelson in was a message: "This game is already lost."
Cliche Alert: Walks can kill you, especially the leadoff variety. Nelson began the 5th with walk, lineout, wild pitch, single, sacrifice fly. 5-3 Indians.
Uncharacteristically, Boone left Nelson in for the 6th: Triple, groundout, RBI double, strikeout, RBI single. Luis Cessa, surprisingly, pitched a perfect 7th and a perfect 8th, but it didn't matter.
Indians 7, Yankees 3. WP: Sam Hentges (1-0). No save. LP: Taillon (0-2).
The Yankees are now 9-12, 4 games behind the Boston Red Sox in the American League Eastern Division, 3 in the loss column, as they have 2 games in hand. By the way: In those 1st 21 games, the Yankees still haven't scored a run in the 1st inning all season.
After the game, Nelson was sent down to the Yankees' "alternate site." A game too late, it would seem. He's a riddle. Not to be confused with mid-20th Century music giant Nelson Riddle.
The Yankees move on to 4 away games against the Baltimore Orioles. Deivi Garcia makes his 1st start of the season, against former Met "ace" Matt Harvey. We're all hoping Garcia pitches like 2015 Harvey -- not like 2016 onward Harvey. And we're hoping the Yankees do in Camden Yards what they usuall do there: Treat it like their own personal home run playpen. Come on you Bombers!