The Yankees lost to the Indians 5-4 in 16 innings at Progressive Field on Tuesday night. It was their fourth consecutive loss and their fifth in their last six games, which combined with the Blue Jays nine consecutive wins, has reduced their lead in the American League East to only half a game.
Luis Severino pitched well in his second career start, but the story of the game was the offense’s struggles yet again. The Yankees only had eight hits in 16 innings and were only 2-7 with runners in scoring position. Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann, who are the 1-5 hitters in the order and are counted on to get on base and drive in runs, combined to go 1-30 with 11 strikeouts and zero RBIs. They are also a pathetic 2-66 in the last three games.
“It’s baseball,” said manager Joe Girardi, whose team was swept three straight by Toronto last weekend. “That’s it. If you’re ready to give up, give up. I’m not ready to give up.”
Stephen Drew’s solo homer in the sixth inning ended the team’s 31-inning scoreless streak, which has been partly due to the lack of production from the top of the lineup. Carlos Beltran hit a solo homer in the eighth to tie the score at two and that run forced extra innings as a result of Didi Gregorius being stranded at second after his double to leadoff the third inning.
In the 10th inning, Gregorius hit a single to load the bases, with Carlos Beltran on second and Chris Young on first, which ended the team’s streak of 21 at-bats without a hit with a runner in scoring position (6 games). Later in the inning, with two outs, Chase Headley hit a pinch-hit single to right to score Beltran and Gregorius on a 3-2 pitch to give the team a 4-2 lead.
However, the Yankees lead would not last long as Andrew Miller blew his first save after recording a save in his first 24 chances. After Carlos Santana hit a sacrifice fly to score Francisco Lindor, Yan Gomes would hit an RBI single to right to make the score 4-4.
“It stinks,” Miller said. “I put us in a terrible situation. I had a chance to close out the game, didn’t do it. I’m frustrated. I feel bad I let us down with the game won. I screwed it up.”
The Indians won the 5:04 minute marathon of a game in the 16th inning when Michael Brantley’s single to right off of rookie Branden Pinder scored Jose Ramirez.
Severino allowed one more earned run in this start than in his MLB debut, but his performance was more impressive because he pitched six innings instead of five and rebounded very well from a rocky first two innings. In his six innings, his seven hits and one walk led to two earned runs, but he allowed five of his seven hits in the first two innings.
Severino, whose lack of command in the first two innings led to his pitch count going up, really limited his pitches in the fourth and fifth innings as he retired all six batters he faced in that span. He was able to get Lonnie Chisenhall to ground out to second to end the sixth, and pitch well enough to get his first win, but the Yankees were only able to score two runs in eight innings off of Carlos Carrasco.
The Yankees used eight relief pitchers Tuesday night, which will give Joe Girardi fewer options in the rest of the series in Cleveland. It is important that the Yankees win the final two games of the series against the last place Indians so that they can maintain their slim lead in the division. Gregorius not scoring in the third inning was costly because that run could have been the run that won the game for the Yankees in nine innings.
CC Sabathia will get the start on Wednesday night for the Yankees to try and snap their four-game losing skid. It will also be important for the 1-5 hitters in the lineup to be more productive than they have been recently.