Ineffective starting pitching led to the second consecutive loss for the Yankees

Nuno during his start against the Angels

Nuno during his start against the Angels

After winning four consecutive games, and having a chance to win the series against the Oakland Athletics, the Yankees lost on Saturday and Sunday to drop their record to 35-33. Hiroki Kuroda allowed four earned runs in 4.2 innings on Saturday, and the Athletics scored eight runs in three innings against Vidal Nuno in Sunday’s 10-5 loss to the Athletics.

According to Katie Sharp of ESPN, Nuno is the first Yankee lefty to allow 8+ earned runs in 3 innings pitched or fewer since Andy Pettitte on Sept. 5, 2003 against the Red Sox. Nuno, who only allowed one run in his last start, allowed three-run homers to Derek Norris and Coco Crisp among his eight hits during his regrettable start. His 5.90 ERA could get him sent back to the minors in the next few weeks.

The best starter that the Yankees have at Triple-A Scranton is Joel De La Cruz who has a 4.06 ERA in in 44.1 innings, which means that they should look outside of the organization to improve the rotation. Manny Banuelos, a former top prospect, is currently pitching in Double-A, but he likely wouldn’t be ready until August or September as a result of slow recovery from missing the 2013 season due to Tommy John surgery. They should look to acquire Jason Hammel or Jeff Samardzija via trade from the Chicago Cubs.

Nuno blamed his ineffectiveness on not being able to properly correct his mistakes against the Athletics offense. “It was pretty much just not making adjustments,” Nuno said. “They got some little hits here and there and then it was just one pitch – bang. Those two innings it was frustrating just getting not ahead in the count. They took advantage of it.”

Nuno only threw a first-pitch strike to 10 out of the 18 hitters that he faced, so his assessment that not getting ahead in the count hurt him is correct. Nuno allowed two more runs besides the six runs that scored off of homers in the first two innings, and then Jose Ramirez was charged with Oakland’s ninth and 10th runs in the 4th inning.

The Yankees rallied late in the game, but it is hard to have a chance to win a game when the starting pitcher is charged with eight runs in three innings. Mark Teixeira’s RBI double in the fifth, Carlos Beltran’s solo homer and Ichiro Suzuki’s sac fly in the seventh and Brett Gardner‘s homer to right that scored Yangervis Solarte gave the Yankees five runs to make the score somewhat respectable.

After the game was already decided, Brendan Ryan uncharacteristically made an error in the eighth to allow Craig Gentry to reach first. Ryan is known for being an excellent defensive shortstop, but that was already his third error of this season after only playing in 18 games.

The Yankees didn’t end the road trip through Seattle and Oakland the way they would have wanted to, but 4-2 is a successful six-game west coast road trip. The Yankees’ 6-4 record over their last 10 games is the best in the American League East, which has helped them improve in to a tie with the Baltimore Orioles for second place.

After an off day on Monday, as the Yankees will be flying back to New York City from Oakland, the Yankees will start a series against the first-place Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday. Masahiro Tanaka, who will start Tuesday’s series opener, has been by far the team’s best starter and will give them their best chance of getting back in the win column against their division rival.

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