Yankees lost to the Indians as Tanaka lost his third game in his last four starts

Tanaka while pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.

Tanaka while pitching for the Rakuten Golden Eagles in Japan.

The two-game winning streak that the Yankees were on ended as they lost 5-3 to the Cleveland Indians on Tuesday at Progressive Field. Masahiro Tanaka had his worst start since coming to the Yankees from Japan. He gave up 10 hits, two homers and five earned runs in 6.2 innings.

All-Star Michael Brantley was the player that Tanaka couldn’t contain as he was three for four with three RBIs and a run scored. Tanaka seemed to rebound well after allowing Brantley’s RBI double in the first inning, but he allowed another run scoring double to Brantley in the fifth, a two-run homer to former Yankee fan favorite Nick Swisher in the sixth and a homer to Brantley in the seventh.

Manager Joe Girardi admitted that everyone has starts like this one, so he was not shocked that Tanaka had his first start where he did not pick up a win or a quality start. “He got on a roll in innings three, four and five and then made mistakes to Swisher and Brantley,” Girardi said. “I thought the first couple of runs he gave up were on pretty good pitches.” In Tanaka’s last four starts, he has a 4.25 ERA, has allowed five homers and is 1-3.

Tanaka has still had an outstanding first season pitching for the Yankees as his ERA is now 2.51 and was recently selected to the All-Star Game. A Yankee who did not make the All-Star Game but was a borderline selection was Brett Gardner. His 15 steals are tied for 11th in the American League, his 54 runs scored are tied for 10th in the league and he is tied for third place with six triples. He also has a solid .287 average and has given the team an unexpected eight homers. He scored a run and drove in Ichiro Suzuki on a ground out to the shortstop in the second.

The Yankees scored two runs in the first inning off of Trevor Bauer. Mark Teixeira hit a single to center to score Gardner, and then Brian McCann struck out, but Jacoby Ellsbury scored the third run after Yan Gomes made an error after his steal of third. However, the Yankees only recorded four hits as Derek Jeter, Kelly Johnson and Zelous Wheeler combined to go 0-8. The Yankees struggled to hit in the clutch since they were only 2-9 with runners in scoring position. They were also only able to score one run off of three errors by the Indians.

Even though Brian Roberts was 0-4 on Tuesday, he is 10-30 so far in July, with five doubles, four runs scored and a .900 OPS. He has raised his average from .236 to a more respectable .247. This has led Rob Refsnyder to go back to playing the outfield for Scranton, which is the position that he played in college.

The Yankees are now four games behind the Baltimore Orioles for first place since their game was postponed last night due to inclement weather. Brandon McCarthy, who was acquired on July 7 from the Arizona Diamondbacks for Vidal Nuno, will try to give the Yankees their second win of the series in his first start as a Yankee. He has a 5.01 season ERA, but he has only given up two and one run respectively in his last two starts (12.2 innings).

Positive signs for McCarthy are his 55 percent ground-ball rate (best of career) and his 7.63 per nine innings strikeouts rate (best of his career). He was also leading the NL in fewest earned runs and hits allowed when he left Arizona. These stats indicate bad luck as well as ineffective defense while with the Diamondbacks. It is also a positive sign that two of his best seasons were while he was pitching for the Oakland Athletics, who are in the American League.

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