The Yankees (13-19) lost to the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday night, 7-3, at Yankee Stadium. Michael Pineda allowed six runs in 5.2 innings pitched, but he allowed four of his six runs in the first inning. This continued his trend of struggling early in the contest but then rebounding. He needs to find consistency, so that he is a reliable pitcher in the beginning of the game.
He has really struggled in the first two innings this season as 20 of the 27 earned runs that he has allowed this season have come in the first two frames. He has been a completely different pitcher after the second frame, but his inability to prevent runners from scoring in the first two stanzas has led to him having a very high ERA of 6.28, a WHIP of 1.60 to go along with hitters having a .306 average against him in his seven starts.
After Alex Gordon’s sacrifice fly scored Lorenzo Cain, Salvador Perez would go onto smash a three-run homer to left that gave the Royals their fourth run of the first inning. That homer by Perez ended up being the difference in the game. Pineda has struggled with the long ball this year as his nine homers given up are tied for the fourth most in the American League.
Pineda has allowed a solid two earned runs in four of his seven starts, but that is not good enough because in his other three starts he has given up six, seven and six runs, respectively. He is obviously not injured based on the way he has pitched after the second inning, but he just needs a different mindset so that he doesn’t have starts where he allows four runs in the first inning.
With Wednesday night’s loss, the Yankees now have a 5-3 record in the last eight games. They are starting to turn the season around because in their previous eight games they had a record of 1-7. A factor in the team winning more games in the last eight contests is that they have scored 38 runs in that span versus only 17 runs in the stretch when they went 1-7.
A positive development during this stretch of improved offense has been the play of Aaron Hicks, who was traded to the Yankees in the offseason. He has gotten consistent at-bats since he has been playing everyday in the outfield as a result of Carlos Beltran being the DH with Alex Rodriguez on the disabled list. Hicks was 3-4 on Wednesday night, and in the last seven games he is an impressive 9-21 (.429) with one double, two homers, five RBIs and five runs scored. His average was .067 on May 4 and is now a much more respectable .216.
Beltran, who was 2-4 last night with a solo home run, has hit well during the month of May. He is 10-36 (.278) with three homers, four doubles, five runs scored and six RBIs. There have been 10 of the team’s 32 games during May, and three of his seven homers have come during May in addition to six of his 15 RBIs.
Beltran also hit his 399th career homer last night, which puts him in a three-way tie for 54th on the all-time list with Al Kaline and Andres Galarraga. Three Yankees are in the top five on the all-time switch hitter home run list as Mark Teixeira has 397, Beltran has 399 and Chipper Jones retired with 468, Eddie Murray retired with 504 and Mickey Mantle retired with 536.
Chase Headley had a single to shallow left in the second inning to score Hicks for his only hit of the game. He has a very low .178 average this season, but the third baseman has a .278 average (5-18) in the last seven days to show some signs of improvement. However, Headley still does not have an extra base hit this season and has only four RBIs. Proving how Headley has not done his part as an everyday player is that 26 pitchers have an extra base hit this season while Headley does not have one.
The Yankees will play the series finale against the Royals tonight at 7:05 p.m. They will win the series if they win tonight’s game that will be started by Nathan Eovaldi (4.78 ERA). In Eovaldi’s previous start, he dominated in eight innings as he allowed two runs and struck out six.
Joe Girardi has said that the goal is to win consecutive series that they play, and the Yankees should be able to get back into the race in the American League East if they can win the next five series that they play. They went into this series having won their previous two.