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.
After being swept in the three game series by the Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend, the Yankees will play a three-game series starting tonight in Cleveland against the Indians. The eight consecutive wins by the Blue Jays has reduced the Yankees lead in the American League East to only 1.5 games.
The Yankees offense will need to bounce back as they only scored one run in the three losses to the Blue Jays and in their last five games combined they have only scored a total of four runs. Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury, who are the table setters at the top of the lineup, are only hitting .182 and .129, respectively, in eight August games. That is part of the reason that the team has gone 3-5 in August after going 10-4 between July 17 and July 31.
The pitching was somewhat surprisingly not the issue against Toronto’s high powered offense as the starters only allowed a combined seven runs in the three games. Nathan Evoaldi allowed one run on Friday, Ivan Nova allowed four runs on Saturday and Masahiro Tanaka allowed two solo homers on Sunday. The Yankees need Luis Severino, who will be making his second start tonight, to have the same kind of success that he had in his first start because winning the series in Cleveland is important.
Severino could be even more effective than when he allowed one earned run (two overall) in five innings pitched against the Red Sox last week because he will not be making his MLB debut and he will be facing an office with less firepower. This could lead to him having fewer three ball counts than he did against Boston, which lead to him throwing 94 pitches by the end of the fifth inning.
However, you can’t ask for much better than one earned run, two hits allowed and zero walks in five innings pitched in a major league debut. His fastball was electric (usually about 96mph), his changeup was effective and he used his slider as a strikeout pitch.
“I’m trying to work on certain pitches and trying to not make any mistakes,” Severino said through a translator. “I feel comfortable. I’m trying to keep my change-up low.”
Joe Girardi said that he is hoping for six innings out of Severino tonight. “He’s got a pretty good slider — he’s got a couple different ones — and he’s got a changeup,” Girardi said. What stood out to me was, he was able to make pitches in three-ball counts.
It is important that the Yankees win at least two out of three games in this series because the Blue Jays will be playing the Oakland Athletics, who are in last place just like the Indians. Chase Headley will get the night off after playing in the team’s previous 24 games and Brendan Ryan will get the start at third. Here are the pitching matchups against the Indians, who are 51-59 and in last place in the AL Central.
RHP Luis Severino (0-1, 1.80)
RHP Carlos Carrasco (11-8, 3.76)
7:10 p.m., YES Network
LHP CC Sabathia (4-8, 5.34)
RHP Danny Salazar (9-6, 3.38)
7:10 p.m., YES Network
RHP Nathan Eovaldi (11-2, 4.15)
7:10 p.m., WPIX and MLB Network