Results tagged ‘ American League East ’

Bullpen breakdown costs Yanks chance to advance

There was a time until last month when the Yankees might have easily put away Tuesday night’s game even after the Blue Jays had cut a 6-0 deficit to 6-4 in the sixth inning. Yankees manager Joe Girardi could have turned to his No Runs DMC formula of having Dellin Betances come on in the seventh, Andrew Miller in the eighth and Aroldis Chapman in the ninth.

That setup became history when the Yankees traded Chapman to the Cubs and Miller to the Indians to acquire needed prospects to help bolster the farm system and bring promise to the future. The Yankees brought Adam Warren back to the organization from the Cubs in the Chapman deal. Warren had pitched very well since returning to the Yankees until Tuesday night when he experienced a nightmare of an eighth inning that propelled the Blue Jays to a come-from-behind 12-6 victory.

If only it had kept raining back between halves of the fifth inning when a severe thunderstorm halted play for 42 minutes. With the Yankees ahead 5-0 at the time, it would have been an official game had the rain not subsided. The Yankees actually added to their lead when play resumed on a two-out, RBI single by Didi Gregorius, who had also driven in their first run with a home run (No. 16) in the first inning. That pushed the shortstop past Brian McCann for the club lead in homers.

Speaking of the long ball, rookie catcher Gary Sanchez whacked two home runs, a solo shot in the second and a three-run bomb in the fourth.

All that offense looked safe in the hands of Michael Pineda, who pitched five scoreless innings with four hits allowed, no walks and two strikeouts in sinking his season ERA below 5.00 (4.89) for the first time all year. Pineda was victimized by the storm as Girardi had to go to his bullpen which was not up to the task. On a night when they were primed to beat Toronto and with Baltimore also losing, the Yankees lost a major opportunity to gain ground in the American League East standings and wild-card chase.

Anthony Swarzak was stung by home runs to Troy Tulowitzki, who was 4-for-5, and Russell Martin, in the sixth as Toronto closed to 6-4. But it was the eighth inning that was a true disaster.

Warren entered the game having pitched 11 shutout innings since rejoining the Yanks. He was in trouble from the beginning as Josh Donaldson won a 12-pitch duel in drawing a leadoff walk. Edwin Encarnacion then tied the score with his 34th home run, a tracer’s bullet to left field.

One out later, Tulwotzski singled for his fourth hit and Martin cranked his second homer of the game. Chasen Shreve came on and faced five batters, all of whom reached base (two hits, two walks, one hit batter) and all but one scored. Michael Saunders’ double to drive in the eighth run of the 47-minute half inning meant that the entire lineup reached base during the frame, which is not something you see every day.

The Yankees hope they never see it again.

Yankees starting to growl in dog days

The Yankees are trying to convince their American League East rivals that they are not out of contention. The Yanks made a very convincing argument Monday night in a 1-0 victory over the first-place Blue Jays.

OK, maybe convincing is overstating it a mite. The Yankees had a miserable night of it with runners in scoring position (2-for-18) and left 14 runners on base. It was their highest number of runners left on base in a 1-0 victory since July 4, 1925 when they stranded 15 against the Philadelphia Athletics. But in games like this, pitching becomes paramount, and pitching the Yankees got.

One night after Luis Severino struggled against the Rays, another young pitcher, Chad Green, had a terrific outing. The righthander flirted with a perfect game into the fifth inning when he lost it but pitched out of a jam to maintain the one-run lead.

Troy Tulowitzki broke up the perfecto bid with a single to left field. Darrell Ceciliani then ripped a double into the right field corner, which put Green into trouble for the first time. He handled it with authority by striking out Justin Smoak and Melvin Upton Jr.

That was the only inning the Blue Jays reached base against Green (2-2), who retired the side in order in his other five innings. He got three strikeouts apiece in three innings and totaled 11 in his six innings. The Yankees got 1-2-3 innings from Tyler Clippard in the seventh and Adam Warren in the eighth before Dellin Betances (fifth save) walked the wire in the ninth.

A leadoff walk to .155-batting, 9-hole hitter Josh Thole and a one-out single by Josh Donaldson gave Toronto runners on the corners with one out and the dangerous Edwin Encarnacion (33 home runs, 97 RBI) at the plate. Encarnacion made solid contact on the first pitch, but his hard ground ball to third baseman Chase Headley was turned into a game-ending, around-the-horn double play.

Talk about walking the wire, R.A. Dickey did the same in his five innings of work. The knuckleballer gave up four hits and four walks but repeatedly worked out of danger. The Yankees had the first two batters on base in both the first and second innings and could not get them home.

They finally broke through in the fourth when Aaron Judge followed two walks with a double to right-center. Judge is the first player in Yankees history to get an extra-base hit in each of his first three career games.

The Yankees posed another threat in the fifth when Headley led off with a double, but Dickey (8-13) once again turned them away. Against the Toronto bullpen, the Yanks failed to capitalize on bases-loaded situations in the sixth and the eighth. They had three at-bats with runners in scoring position in six different innings and were successful only twice with one of the hits failing to drive in a run.

The victory put the Yankees 5 1/2 games out of first place in the AL East, although they remained 4 1/2 games behind for the second wild-card berth as the Red Sox also won in Cleveland. Still, the addition of the new, young talent has had an uplift on the field and in the clubhouse. The Yankees are showing some bite in the dog days of August.

Yankees suffer flop at the Trop

After winning three consecutive series and going 7-3 against such contenders as the Orioles, Giants and Astros, the Yankees seemed to place themselves in contention as well, particularly since they were spending this weekend at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla, home of the last-place Rays.

Thud.

That was the sound the Yanks made Friday night as they fell to Tampa Bay, 5-1, failing to take advantage of a Baltimore loss to Toronto, which moved the Blue Jays to a half-game of overtaking the Orioles for first place in the American League East.

The Yankees banged out 10 hits but all were singles, and only one, a two-out knock by Mark Teixeira in the eighth, came with runners in scoring position in nine such at-bats. A bright spot was a pinch-hit single in the ninth by Alex Rodriguez, only his second hit in 24 at-bats since the All-Star break.

A brighter spot was the work of rookie righthander Chad Green, who picked up from starter Ivan Nova in the fifth and pitched the rest of the way. Green’s command occasionally was as shaky as Nova’s (three walks), but he allowed only one hit and struck out five in 3 2/3 innings. Green might actually have been auditioning for a job in the rotation should Nova be dealt before Monday’s non-waiver trade deadline.

Nova (7-6, 4.90 ERA) was in trouble from the get-go. He gave up solo home runs to Logan Forsythe and Corey Dickerson on inside fastballs in the first inning. The first five hits the Rays had against Nova were for extra bases. Brad Miller tripled and doubled. Evan Longoria added an RBI double.

Green at least kept the Yankees within striking distance, but they failed for the most part to hit in the clutch. The Yanks got two hits in the first inning off eventual winning pitcher Jake Odorizzi (5-5), which is twice as many as they had over seven innings against him back on May 29 at the Trop. That day, Odorizzi took a no-hitter into the seventh only to lose it and the game on a two-run home run by Starlin Castro, the only hit for the Yankees in the game. Ironically, Castro was the only Yankees player in the lineup Friday night who failed to get a hit.

Buyers? Sellers? How about winners?

Take heart, Yankees fans, your club may just get in this race for a post-season berth after all. All this debate about whether they Yankees should be buyers or sellers at the Aug. 1 non-waiver trade deadline could rage for another two weeks.

For the second straight night, the Yanks showed Baltimore they are not ready to be buried in the standings. A 7-1 victory pushed the Yanks’ record above .500 at 47-46 and within 6 1/2 games of the Orioles in the American League East standings. That is not an insurmountable deficit with 10 weeks remaining on the schedule.

As I mentioned in an earlier posting, if the Yankees were going to be taken seriously as a contender they had to start playing better within their division. Three straight victories over AL East clubs on this homestand is a nice start.

The Yanks’ keystone combination of second baseman Starlin Castro and shortstop Didi Gregorius were the chief architects of this victory. Each had two hits and scored two runs with Castro driving in four runs.

Gregorius had a premium at-bat with two out in the second inning against Orioles starter Vance Worley. After falling behind 0-2, Gregorius worked the count full and won a 10-pitch duel with a walk. Castro then crushed a 3-1 pitch to left field for his 11th home run. The Yankees pushed their lead to 3-0 in the fifth on an RBI single by Jacoby Ellsbury, but he was thrown out at third base later in the inning trying to advance all the way to third base from first base on a ball that eluded catcher Caleb Joseph.

An extra run would have come in handy in the sixth when the wheels fell off for Nathan Eovaldi, who had been banished to the bullpen two weeks ago but worked his way back into the rotation with 7 2/3 innings of scoreless relief. Eovaldi was pretty effective for the most part Tuesday night. He got 12 outs in a row before he walked Ryan Flaherty with one down in the sixth.

A single up the middle by Adam Jones and a well-struck double to left by Joey Rickard produced a run and spelled major trouble for Eovaldi, who then walked Manny Machado to load the bases for major-league home run leader Mark Trumbo.

Anthony Swarzak came on and got two foul pop-ups to get the Yankees out of the jam. First baseman Rob Refsnyder made a dazzling catch down the right field line of Trumbo’s towering fly. Gregorius ran down Jonathan Schoop’s floater down the left field line.

“He made quality pitches,” manager Joe Girardi said of Swarzak. “He went right after hitters.”

Gregorius and Castro were at it again in the bottom of the sixth as the Yankees added two more runs. One out after a leadoff walk to Brian McCann by Orioles reliever Odrisamer Despaigne, Gregorius lined a single to left. Castro followed with a smoking liner to right-center for a two-run double.

Chase Headley put on the finishing touch with a two-run home run in the eighth off Mychal Givens.

The Yankees clearly won the bullpen game in this one and did so without having to use Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller or Aroldis Chapman. While the Orioles’ pen allowed four earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, the Yankees’ Swarzak and Nick Goody combined for 3 2/3 hitless innings with five strikeouts.

Yanks’ best pitching combo avoids sweep by Bosox

If the Yankees are going to make a real run for a postseason berth, they are going to have to start doing better against clubs in their own division. Sunday night was a good start, a 3-1 victory over the Red Sox to avoid getting swept at home against their traditional rival.

It has been rough going for the Yankees in the American League East this year. Sunday night’s victory improved their record in the division to 11-19, including 2-6 against the Red Sox. Against the rest of the major leagues, the Yanks’ record is 34-27.

Coming off his briefest start of the year July 10 at Cleveland, Masahiro Tanaka again pitched well following a Yankees loss in out-dueling David Price and ending Boston’s six-game winning streak. Dustin Pedroia took Tanaka deep with one out in the first inning, but that would be all the Red Sox would score all night as they were stymied by Tanaka and No Runs DMC, the best possible pitching combination for the Yankees.

Tanaka went six innings, allowed only two other hits and one walk with seven strikeouts to improve his season record to 7-2 with a 3.15 ERA. It is even better when he starts on extra rest. The righthander was pitching on six days’ rest Sunday night. His record when he starts on five or more days’ rest is 6-0 with a 1.64 ERA.

That is fitting with Japanese baseball scheduling in which starting pitchers seldom work more than once a week. That cannot always be worked out in the major leagues, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi has tried whenever possible to get an extra day here or there for Tanaka, whose record after Yankees losses is 4-1 with a 2.36 ERA. He is unbeaten in his past six starts (4-0 with a 3.29 ERA in 38 1/3 innings).

The Yankees have given Price a hard time this year (1-2 with a 7.79 ERA in three starts totaling 17 1/3 innings). They finally got to him in the fourth inning when they scored all their runs on five of their 11 hits in the game.

Didi Gregorius kept up his torrid hitting against left-handed pitching with a one-out single to center to start the rally. He scored the tying run on a double to left by Starlin Castro. After Rob Refsnyder struck out, Austin Romine put the Yankees ahead with a single to center. Singles by Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury accounted for the third run. Ellsbury got a second hit off Price in the sixth to raise his career average against him to .357.

Gregorius added a double off Price in the fifth and is now batting .370 off lefties in 81 at-bats. Going into this season, Gregorius was a .214 hitter against lefthanders. He, Gardner and Ellsbury, the three left-handed hitters in the Yankees’ lineup, combined to go 6-for-11 against Price, who gave up the most hits to left-handed batters in a game in his career.

Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman worked their usual magic over the last three innings, each putting up a zero to extend the bulllpen’s scoreless streak to 19 innings. Chapman walked David Ortiz with one out in the ninth but got Hanley Ramirez to ground into a double play in picking up his 18th save.

Castro has perfect timing in ruining no-hit bid

Starlin Castro picked an ideal time to break up a no-hitter with a two-run home run Sunday that gave the Yankees a one-run lead. After all, it came in the top of the seventh inning at Tropicana Field. Yankees fans know what that means this season — here come Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman to do their 7-8-9 magic in the late innings.

It was a startling turnaround for the Yankees, who were facing losing the series against Tampa Bay and falling back into last place in the American League East. On top of that, after being smashed, 9-5, Saturday, the Yanks were on the verge of being no-hit Sunday for the first time in 13 years.

Jake Odorizzi was that good.

If not for a change in an umpire’s decision that allowed Dustin Ackley to reach first base on an error by Rays shortstop Brad Miller, Odorizzi still would have had a perfect game going one out into the seventh. As it was, a no-hitter was in place even after he walked Brett Gardner. Then Castro came through with perfect timing. His home run to left-center was the first — and last — Yankees hit of the game, but it gave them a 2-1 lead in the very capable hands of Betances, Miller and Chapman, who teamed up for nine consecutive outs, seven on strikeouts.

Betances retired the side with two strikeouts in the seventh. Miller struck out the side in the eighth. Chapman duplicated Betances’ feat in the ninth for his seventh save. The 2016 back end of the bullpen formula was perfect again and gave the Yankees a lift leaving Florida for Canada and a three-game date in Toronto with the Blue Jays, who took two of three last week at Yankee Stadium.

As seems to be the custom these days, the Yankees were hit with another injury, a jammed right shoulder to Ackley diving back into first base. Ackley had been playing first base in place of regular Mark Teixeira, who has been out with neck stiffness that required a cortisone injection last week.

After Michael Pineda’s disappointing start Saturday that ended a stretch of nine straight six-plus-inning outings by Yankees starters, Nathan Eovaldi got the rotation on another hopeful roll. The righthander allowed one run, six hits and two walks with seven strikeouts in six innings and extended his personal winning streak to six games. Over his past seven starts, Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.72 ERA with 35 hits allowed, 12 walks and 35 strikeouts in 43 innings.

Masahiro Tanaka got the weekend off to strong start with seven innings of no-run, two-hit pitching Friday night in a 4-1 victory that featured home runs by Alex Rodriguez (No. 6 and career No. 693) and Carlos Beltran (No. 11 and career No. 403). Beltran raised those numbers to 12 and 404 with his 2,500th career hit Saturday off Matt Moore, the lone highlight in a loss that continued the slide of Pineda, who was battered for six earned runs and nine hits in 3 2/3 innings as his record fell to 2-6 with a 6.92 ERA.

Eovaldi did a terrific job keeping the Yankees close in a game in which they struggled to get a hit and settled for merely one. But it was good enough for an important ‘W.’

Yankees waste solid effort from Sabathia

It is tough to lose a two-hitter, but that is what happened to CC Sabathia Thursday. The lefthander gave up only two singles through seven innings, which marked the eighth consecutive game in which the Yankees’ starting pitcher lasted six or more innings.

That was the good part. The bad part is that Blue Jays lefthander J.A. Happ was just as stingy in limiting the Yankees to one run in seven innings. A home run with two out in the first inning by Starlin Castro accounted for the Yankees’ scoring in a 3-1 loss that allowed Toronto to jump ahead of them in the American League East standings.

The Yankees stayed out of last place in the division but fell two games under .500 in dropping two of the three games in the abbreviated home stand against a club that has had more than it share of turmoil lately. Losing the series stunted much of the momentum derived from a 5-2 trip to Phoenix and Oakland. The Yankees will spend the next 10 days on the road again with stops in St. Petersburg, Fla. (three games), Toronto (three), Detroit (one), and Baltimore (three). Only the rainout makeup game against the Tigers will be outside the AL East, so there will be plenty of chances for the Yanks to gain ground in the standings.

It hurt to waste so strong an effort by Sabathia, whose record fell to 3-3 butt whose ERA shrunk to 2.83. Neither of the two runs off Sabathia, who struck out seven batters, walked one and hit one, was earned because of an error by shortstop Didi Gregorius, whose defense has been inconsistent (eight errors in 42 games).

Gregorius booted a hard grounder by Devon Travis with one out. Sabathia retired Darwin Barney on a fly to center but loaded the bases by yielding a single to Jose Bautista and walking Josh Donaldson. Edwin Encarnacion lashed a single to left to score the two runs that gave the Jays the lead for what turned out to be for good.

Sabathia kept the Yankees in the game after that with four hitless innings, but the Yankees could not muster much of an offense against Happ and two relievers. Chase Headley and Gregorius singled with one out in the fifth before Austin Romine grounded into a double play. In the eighth against righthander Gavin Floyd, Jacoby Ellsbury batted for Romine and led off with a single. He reached second on an infield out but was stranded as Aaron Hicks flied out and Alex Rodriguez struck out.

Rodriguez was back from his two-game, injury-rehabilitation assignment at Double A Trenton and in the lineup as the designated hitter for the first time since he went on the 15-day disabled list May 4. A-Rod was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Carlos Beltran, who had been the Yankees’ hottest hitter as a frequent DH in Rodriguez’s absence, was back in right field and had a brutal day at the plate (0-for-4, all strikeouts). He is now hitless in his past nine at-bats. Romine played first base in place of Mark Teixeira, who had an injection in his ailing neck and will be out of the lineup for several days. Relief pitcher Chasen Shreve was placed on the DL because of a sprained left shoulder.

The Blue Jays scored an insurance run in the ninth off Aroldis Chapman, who was not in a save situation and gave up three singles.

Thursday marked Sabathia’s 10th career start of seven or more innings pitched and two hits or fewer without allowing an earned run and his first since April 5, 2011 against the Twins (seven innings, two hits). With his seven strikeouts, Sabathia raised his career total to 2,610, surpassing Hall of Famer Tom Glavine (2,607) and tying Chuck Finley (2,610) for 23rd place on the all-time list.

Yanks, Jays going in opposite directions

The team that zoomed past the Yankees last year to the American League East title is moving past them in a different direction this year. The Blue Jays have replaced the Yankees in last place in the division. The Yanks climbed out of the cellar over the weekend in Oakland and have fought back to the .500 mark (22-22) with the 6-0 victory Tuesday night over a Jays team that is not scoring in bunches as it did a year ago.

The Yankees’ stretch of first-rate starting pitching during the six-game winning streak that has pushed them into third place in the AL East continued with Nathan Eovaldi (5-2) shutting out the Blue Jays on two hits in six-plus innings with three walks and five strikeouts in winning his fourth consecutive start and extending his streak of winning decisions to five.

Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.16 ERA over his past four starts and a 2.92 ERA over his past six starts as his season ERA has dropped from 6.11 to 3.95. Relievers Dellin Betances, Kirby Yates and Luis Cessa held Toronto hitless over the final three innings. During the winning streak, Yankees pitchers have a 1.67 ERA in 54 innings. Opponents are batting only .148 in 189 at-bats off Yankees pitching in the past six games.

Eovaldi ran his streak of consecutive batters retired to 22 before Troy Tulowitzki’s one-out single in the second inning. The righthander also retired 12 batters in a row from the first out in the third through the final out of the sixth. Since allowing a leadoff double in the first inning May 18 at Phoenix, Eovaldi has set down 36 of 41 batters faced.

The Yankees’ offense could not be slowed down even in the throes of having to face a knuckleballer. They jumped on R.A. Dickey (2-6) early with a run in the first inning. As it turned out, that was all the scoring they needed.

Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista, the most powerful leadoff hitter in the major leagues, helped the Yankees to that run in the first with a poor decision to dive for a Jacoby Ellsbury line drive that ended up rolling to the wall for a leadoff triple. A walk and a strikeout later, Carlos Beltran beat out a play at first to avoid being doubled up as Ellsbury scored.

Beltran, the Yankees’ hottest hitter of late, got a more legitimate RBI in the fourth with his 10th home run. He also walked and scored in the Yankees’ two-run eighth inning on a sacrifice fly by Chase Headley. Didi Gregorius singled in the second run.

Dickey was gone by then. He was chased in the seventh after giving up an RBI double to Austin Romine. Ellsbury greeted reliever Joe Biagini with a run-scoring single.

Beltran started off the brief homestand as well as he finished off the two-city trip in which he batted .407 with three runs, five doubles, one homer and nine RBI in seven games and 27 at-bats. In nine games since May 15, Beltran has hit .394 with seven runs, five doubles, three home runs and 14 RBI in 33 at-bats.

Yanks escape last place with 4th straight victory

Goodbye, last place. For the first time in nearly a month, the Yankees are no longer at the bottom of the pack in the American League East. Their 5-1 victory Saturday at Oakland paired with Toronto’s 5-3 loss at Minneapolis pushed the Yankees over the Blue Jays in the standings.

The Yankees’ fourth straight victory, their longest winning streak of the year, was their third in a row over the Athletics in paying the A’s back for their sweep of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium last month. The Yankees can go one better with another victory Sunday in the series and trip finale.

It has been a pleasant trek for the Yanks, who stumbled at the beginning of it with two losses in Phoenix, but they have come back on the strength of their starting pitching. Saturday marked the fourth straight game in which a Yankees starter allowed only one run in six or more innings of work.

Masahiro Tanaka went seven innings Saturday, topping the six-inning efforts of predecessors CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova and Nathan Eovaldi. The weak link in the rotation has been Michael Pineda, who will try to turn his fortunes around Sunday.

Tanaka allowed one run on a sacrifice fly by Danny Valencia in the fifth. Two innings earlier facing Valencia with the bases full and one out, Tanaka struck him out looking and ended the threat by getting Khris Davis on a ground ball to third base. Tanaka walked two batters and struck out four in ending a five-start streak of no-decisions. For the season, Tanaka is 2-0 with seven no-decisions and a 3.24 ERA.

This was Tanaka’s third career start against the A’s. He is 3-0 with a 1.31 ERA in 20 2/3 innings. Saturday’s victory was his first start at Oakland and continued his success on the road where he is 1-0 with a 1.69 ERA in four starts this season. For his career, Tanaka is 13-6 with a 3.04 ERA in games away from Yankee Stadium.

A four-run fourth inning off Athletics starter Sean Manaea (1-2, 7.62 ERA) gave Tanaka all the offensive support he would require and once again allowed Joe Girardi in his 1,500th major league game as a manager to rest his three power relievers, although Aroldis Chapman did warm up in the ninth when the A’s got a runner on base with none out against Nick Goody, who worked two scoreless frames.

Carlos Beltran drove in the first run of the fourth inning for his seventh RBI of the series. After a sacrifice fly by Aaron Hicks, Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre call-up Rob Refsnyder doubled to right-center for two more runs. Refsnyder played right field for the first six innings. He began his career in the outfield but was moved to second base in the minors and also played some third base during spring training but is now back in his original spot and seems more comfortable. Refsnyder was on a tear this month at SWB, batting .400 with five doubles, two home runs and five RBI in 14 games and 55 at-bats in May. For the season, he is hitting .293 with six doubles, two homers and 10 RBI in 34 games and 133 at-bats. Refsnyder batted .302 in 43 at-bats with the Yankees in two separate call-up stints last year.

Starlin Castro, who had three hits, doubled in a run with two out in the seventh inning to Chase Manaea. Beltran singled leading off the eighth for his 2,495th career hit to tie Mickey Vernon for 99th place on the all-time list. This was the 11th game in which Beltran served as the designated hitter since Alex Rodriguez went on the 15-day disabled list. In those starts, Beltran has hit .356 with nine runs, eight doubles, five home runs and 17 RBI in 45 at-bats. The Yankees are 9-2 in those games and 12-6 since A-Rod went on the DL.

All of which has helped the Yankees get out of the AL East cellar. They had been in last place for 27 consecutive days, a period covering 25 games since April 24. They do not want to go back and hope to take that message to the Blue Jays when they come to the Stadium next week for a three-game set.

Terrible timing for another A-Rod injury

Monday’s open date, the Yankees’ last day off until May 23, did not appear to do anything to invigorate them. In fact, it may have done the opposite. While they did lose Sunday night to finish off being swept by the Red Sox, the Yankees scored seven runs.

Come Tuesday night in Baltimore, the Yankees went right back to their piddling offense. One measly run is all they could muster against the Orioles, who moved back into first place in the American League East with a 4-1 victory that jumped Baltimore back over the Red Sox, who lost to the White Sox.

And to make matters worse, Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees’ hottest hitter on this trip, came up lame in the fifth inning and will undergo an MRI exam on his right hamstring Wednesday. A-Rod missed only two games in Texas at the start of the trip due to an oblique injury, so the Yankees are hopeful they can be that lucky again, except that is a 40-year-old hamstring.

A-Rod’s health was always going to be an issue this season, but the timing of his likely absence from the lineup could not be worse. Rodriguez has hit .353 with four runs, two doubles, three home runs and six RBI in 17 at-bats on a trip in which the Yankees have scored only 16 runs in seven games (2.3 per game), six of them losses. The Yanks have now lost twice as many games as they have won mostly because of an anemic offense and inconsistent starting pitching.

Luis Severino, who had been expected to emerge as a possible staff ace this season, fell to 0-4 with a 6.31 ERA. The righthander also embarrassed himself with two dropped balls trying to cover first base. One of the errors resulted in a run. Despite the PFP (pitchers fielding practice) blunders, Severino was hurt more by two fat pitches to Mark Trumbo, who homered off both of them in driving in three runs.

It was another disappointing outing from a starting pitcher. The Yankees’ rotation has a 4-11 record with a 5.13 ERA in 135 innings in which it has allowed 154 hits. With the margin for error so slim because of the weak run support, the Yankees cannot afford to have starters put them behind early in games.

The Yankees actually gave Severino a 1-0 lead in the second on Didi Gregorius’ two-out, RBI single, but the first of Trumbo’s two homers leading off the bottom half of the inning immediately tied the score. The Orioles filled the bases with two outs with Severino’s first error fueling the rally, but he got Manny Machado, the American League Player of the Month for April, on a popup to first baseman Mark Teixeira on the first pitch.

Baltimore took the lead in the fourth with an unearned run on Severino’s second dropped feed from Teixeira that allowed Jonathan Schoop, who had doubled with two out, to score.

Machado pulled a rock in the fifth when after he led off with a double tried to cross to third base on a grounder to the left side and was thrown out at third by Gregorius. Severino struck out Chris Davis but got victimized by Trumbo again.

The Orioles went down meekly after that as their last 10 batters were retired with Kirby Yates and Johnny Barbato pitching a shutout inning apiece. Baltimore was actually worse than the Yankees were in situations with runners in scoring position. The Orioles were 0-for-6 and the Yankees 1-for-7. The Yankees are actually hitting better with runners in scoring position on the trip (.225) than they are overall for the season (.201).

The Yankees left one runner on base in each of the first six innings against winning pitcher Chris Tillman, who finished strongly by striking out the side in the seventh.

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