The Yankees lost 9-3 to the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night at Progressive Field. The Yankees were on track to win the game with a 3-0 lead in the top of the seventh after scoring two runs in the fourth and one in the fifth, but the previously reliable bullpen allowed nine runs combined in the seventh and eighth.
David Phelps, who had only allowed three runs combined in his previous two starts, continued his improved pitching as he only allowed two runs in six innings pitched. However, it could have been zero runs in six innings if Matt Thornton would have prevented Phelps’s two inherited runners from scoring in the seventh. Thornton hadn’t allowed a run in his previous nine appearances, but his ineffective pitching led to a loss for the Yankees.
Manager Joe Girardi was impressed by how Phelps pitched and was disappointed that they couldn’t get the win for him. “He threw pretty well,” Girardi said. “It is unfortunate that we were not able to win the game for him. He has been really good. He has been on a little bit of a roll for us, which is important.
Phelps gave up a single to Chris Dickerson and Roberto Perez’s first career hit in his first game before being taken out of the game. Thornton allowed those two runners to score and allowed two runs of his own as Asdrubal Cabrera hit a triple to right that scored three runs and Michael Brantley hit a sacrifice fly to center that scored Cabrera.
Perez also hit his first major league home run in the eighth inning. His two-run blast off of rarely used reliever Jim Miller to made the score 6-3. The Indians would score three more runs in the frame off of Miller, highlighted by a 394-foot two-run homer by Carlos Santana.
Girardi could have left Phelps in longer, but Phelps had thrown 103 pitches after allowing those two consecutive singles. The Yankees struggles with runners in scoring position continued as they were only 1-5 in those situations. In the first inning, Francisco Cervelli, who has hit well with the bases loaded in his career, struck out with the bases loaded and two outs.
Yangervis Solarte, who was recalled from AAA Scranton before the game since Carlos Beltran was put on the 7-day concussion disabled list, had a single to left to score Cervelli for the team’s only hit with RISP. The Yankees scored their other two runs off of a two-run homer by rookie Zelous Wheeler. This was his second homer in his first 18 at-bats since being brought up from AAA Scranton.
Derek Jeter, who was 2-4 in the game, now has 1,000 career multi-hit games. It is yet another milestone in his Hall of Fame career.
Masahiro Tanaka will now be out for at least six weeks with a partial tear of his UCL. He will have a PRP injection in the coming days, and Brian Cashman said that Tommy John surgery could be an option. This very much hurts the rotation as he has been by far the team’s best starter so far. Cashman has said that they will try to improve the team before the trade deadline, which means that he will likely add another starter since 80 percent of the rotation to begin the season is on the disabled list.
They loss meant that they split the series with the Indians, with the Yankees winning the first and third game and the Indians winning the second and fourth. The Yankees bullpen had a 1.75 ERA in their previous 16 games, and part of the reason the bullpen gave up so many runs last night was because the most reliable options were not available as a result of Wednesday’s 14 inning game. The team is now four games behind the Baltimore Orioles before they start a three-game series in Baltimore on Friday.