Results tagged ‘ American League East ’

Eovaldi answers Girardi’s call to step up

With CC Sabathia going on the disabled list Monday because of inflammation in his right knee that could scratch him for the rest of the season, Yankees manager Joe Girardi called for other starters in the rotation to step up.

Let it be said that Nathan Eovaldi stepped up.

Eovaldi had nothing to show on his record for his eight formidable innings in the 1-0 victory over the Astros Monday night that sent the Yankees back into a first-place tie with the Blue Jays in the American League East.

Birthday boy Brett Gardner (32) scored the only run of the game on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Beltran, who played in his 1,000th AL game. Beltran has also played in 1,269 games in the National League and became the sixth (and only active) player to play at least 1,000 games in each league. The others: Bob Boone, Vladimir Guerrero, Fred McGriff and Hall of Famers Frank Robinson and Dave Winfield.

The Yankees had relief pitcher Oliver Perez to thank for this one. The lefthander who wore out his welcome with the Mets years ago faced three batters, walked each one (one intentionally) and threw a wild pitch before Beltran sent everyone home with a fly ball to deep center field off righthander Chad Qualls.

The winning decision went to Andrew Miller (2-2), who pitched the ninth inning in continuing the string of zeroes Eovaldi set up.

Although he was stuck with a no-decision, Eovaldi remained undefeated in 12 starts since his last loss June 16 at Miami. The hard-throwing righthander went into triple digits several times in lighting up the radar gun and was at his best in getting out of tight spots.

Eovaldi showed the sort of grit Sabathia has been known for by pitching out of four jams in his scoreless duel with Houston starter Scott Feldman, who also fashioned eight shutout innings.

After a first inning in which Astros hitters watched three fastballs clocked at 101, 100 and 101 from Eovaldi, two one-out singles put him to his first test, which he passed with flying colors by striking out Chris Carter and Hank Conger.

That in itself is not remarkable considering Houston has struck out more than 1,100 times already this season. The Astros have the lowest team batting average (.240) in the AL but the most home runs (169). It is often feast and famine for the Stros, who swing and miss a lot.

Two of the three walks Eovaldi issued came in the fifth, but he ended the threat by getting Marwin Gonzalez on a ground ball to second base. Houston threatened again in the sixth when Carlos Correa led off with a single and Colby Rasmus walked. A sacrifice bunt by Carlos Gomez advanced the runners, but Eovaldi saw to it that they went no farther.

Rookie first baseman Greg Bird fielded a hard grounder by Evan Gattis and caught Rasmus wandering too far off second base to get the second out before Luis Valbuena ended the inning with a flyout to center.

In the eighth, a wild throw to first base by Chase Headley for his 20th error put Correa at second base with one out. Eovaldi set down Rasmus and Gomez on routine fly balls. In the Gomez at-bat, Eovaldi hit 100 on the gun with his 106th and 107th pitches. Remarkable.

Eovaldi has always been a hard thrower, but he has developed into more of a pitcher this year for several reasons, beginning with using his power to work his fastball inside. He has gotten ahead in the count regularly to make use of his split-finger fastball and has been working on a slider, which Girardi felt was the best he has seen all year from him.

Over his past 12 starts, Eovaldi is 8-0 with a 2.93 ERA in 73 2/3 innings that has dropped his season ERA from 5.12 to 4.00. He is 5-0 with a 3.08 ERA in 12 starts at Yankee Stadium covering 73 innings.

The Yankees had several chances to give Eovaldi a lead. In the second inning, Didi Gregorius and Stephen Drew singled with none out, but Jacoby Ellsbury grounded into a fielder’s choice, Gardner struck out and Alex Rodriguez flied out.

Drew’s hit brought his batting average to .200 for the first time since his fifth at-bat of the season April 8 when he was 1-for-5. It came in his 227th plate appearance. Alas, Drew was hitless in his next two at-bats to fall back to .199.

Brian McCann, who reached base in all four times up with three singles and a walk, began three innings with singles, including the seventh when he crossed to third on a single off the right field wall by Beltran. Unfortunately, the slow-legged catcher tried to score on a fly ball to center but was thrown out at the plate by Gomez.

McCann’s walk in the ninth was the third given up by Perez and loaded the bags for Beltran, who spared Girardi from having to use Mark Teixeira as a pinch hitter with the huge sacrifice fly.

Extra-inning game goes Yanks’ way for a change

Extra-inning games have not been a Yankees strength this year despite their excellent bullpen. Before Monday night, they had a 2-7 record after regulation, including 1-5 at Yankee Stadium. Thanks in part to former Yankees infielder Eduardo Nunez, the Bombers pulled out an 8-7, 10-inning victory over the Twins, who had 16 hits in the game.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi expected Monday night to be a bullpen game with Bryan Mitchell starting, but it became that literally after the righthander was knocked out of the game in the second inning with a liner hit by Nunez that struck him in the face and left him with a broken nose.

Girardi used seven relievers to get through the game with the last three — Adam Warren, Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller — doing their customary first-rate work to control the swing-happy Twins.

The Yankees had squandered a 3-0, first-inning lead achieved on Brian McCann’s 21st home run but came back from a 7-5 deficit in the sixth on a two-run homer by Carlos Beltran (No. 13), who has gotten quite a few big hits lately, including a game-winning, three-run blast last Friday night at Toronto.

McCann had a huge night for the Yankees with three hits and five RBI. He also threw out three runners attempting to steal second base. Mac put the Yankees ahead, 5-4, in the third with a two-run single, but solo home runs by Aaron Hicks in the fourth off Caleb Cotham and Trevor Plouffe in the fifth of Chasen Shreve moved the Twins in front again, and they added another run in the sixth on a two-out, RBI single by Plouffe off Justin Wilson.

Once the Yankees tied it at 7, the bullpen limited Minnesota to one hit over the final four innings, including retiring the last six Twins batters in succession, four on strikeouts.

Twins closer Glen Perkins came on in the 10th and gave up a leadoff double to rookie Greg Bird, who had entered the game in the sixth inning as a pinch runner for Mark Teixeira, who came out of the game with a bruised left shin the result of fouling a ball off it (x-rays were negative).

McCann continued his hot night with a double off the glove of left fielder Eddie Rosario. Bird had to hold up to see if the ball would be caught and was stopped at third base. Brendan Ryan ran for him after Beltran was walked intentionally to load the bases.

Twins manager Paul Molitor inserted Eduardo Escobar in place of right fielder Torii Hunter and stationed him as part of a five-man infield. Chase Headley hit a hard grounder that Nunez failed to handle cleanly. He threw to first base, even though a throw home was the only chance to keep the game alive for Minnesota. Ryan crossed the plate without a challenge.

The victory increased the Yankees’ lead in the American League East to one game over the Blue Jays, who were not scheduled, and stayed four games up on the Orioles, who won their fourth in a row at home against the Athletics.

Beltran thrives in playoff atmosphere

No matter what happens Sunday, the Yankees are guaranteed to depart Toronto in first place in the American League East. They assured themselves of that by following Friday night’s exhilarating come-from-behind victory with a thoroughly commanding triumph Saturday that let the Blue Jays know they are in for a fight.

Masahiro Tanaka, in what was probably the most important start of his brief career in North America, gave the Yankees precisely what they needed Saturday with a route-going performance, his first complete game of the season and fourth of his career. The Yankees beat Toronto at its own game with home runs by Carlos Beltran (No. 12) and Mark Teixeira (No. 31) doing in Marco Estrada, who had shut them out for 6 1/3 innings last Sunday at Yankee Stadium.

This series has been a turnaround set for the Yankees, who have out-homered the Jays, 3-0, and beat two of the pitchers who shut them down last weekend.

Another sellout crowd at Rogers Centre of 46,630 had little to cheer about as the Yankees increased their lead in the division to 1 1/2 games (three in the loss column). The large crowds have conveyed a playoff atmosphere, which may be why Beltran has played so huge a role in the first two games.

After all, Beltran is among the greatest postseason players in major league history. In 51 postseason games and 180 at-bats, Beltran has batted .333 with 45 runs, 13 doubles, one triple, 16 home runs, 40 runs batted and 11 stolen bases. His OPS (on-base average plus slugging percentage) in postseason play is an incredible 1.128.

It began back in 2004 when a late-season trade sent him from Kansas City to Houston where he hit eight home runs in 12 games combined in the National Leage Division Series and NL Championship Series.

Mets fans glumly recall that Beltran took a 3-2 breaking ball from then rookie Adam Wainwright for the final out of the 2006 NLCS against the Cardinals, who went on to win their first World Series in 24 years in a five-game victory over the Tigers. What Mets fans tend to forget is that Beltran batted .296 with three homers and four RBI against St. Louis.

Playing for the Cardinals in 29 postseason games over the 2012 and ’13 seasons, Beltran hit .306 with nine doubles, one triple, five home runs and 21 RBI. He finally got to the World Series in 2013 and hit .294 with three RBI, but the Cards lost in six games to the Red Sox.

If the Yankees can get to postseason play this year, they can thank Beltran for what he has done the past two games. His three-run, pinch-hit home run in the eighth inning Friday night off Aaron Sanchez was a game-winner, and Beltran got the Yankees off on a positive note Saturday with a first-inning solo homer off Estrada.

Beltran’s homer Friday night was the Yankees’ first go-ahead, pinch-hit homer when trailing in the eighth inning or later since Jorge Posada hit a pinch-hit three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth Sept. 9, 2009 against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. The previous Yankees player to hit a go-ahead pinch-hit homer on the road in the eighth inning or later was Don Mattingly July 24, 1994 at Anaheim, a three-run shot that erased a 4-2 deficit.

Beltran, who also doubled Saturday, extended his hitting streak to 10 games during which he has batted .375 in 32 at-bats. During Beltran’s 16-game on-base streak (since July 26), he is batting .346 with 10 runs, six doubles, five home runs, nine RBI and eight walks in 60 plate appearances.

It was still a 1-0 game in the fifth when it appeared the game was getting out of hand for Tanaka. He loaded the bases on two walks sandwiched around an opposite-field single by 9-hole hitter Ben Revere with the power portion of the Jays’ batting order coming up.

The crowd got excited when Josh Donaldson lifted a high fly to left field but had to settle for a game-tying sacrifice fly. Tanaka bore down to strike out Jose Bautista on a nasty splitter and retire the equally dangerous Edwin Encarnacion on a soft infield fly.

Tanaka’s effort was rewarded the next inning when Teixeira, getting a day off the field as the designated hitter, lauched a home run to right field. Rookie Greg Bird played first base and got his first major-league hit, a single to left in the eighth, after Teixeira got his second RBI on a single that scored Chris Young, pinch running for Beltran, who had doubled with one out. John Ryan Murphy doubled and scored on a single by Jacoby Ellsbury in the ninth.

Tanaka was masterful the rest of the way as he set down 15 of Toronto’s last 16 batters to give a weary bullpen a needed blow.

Yanks back in 1st after ending Jays’ 11-win run

Well now, look who is back in first place?

In a stunning turn of events, the Yankees, who were staring at the possibility of yet another shutout loss to the Blue Jays, kicked over the table with a four-run eighth inning to cool off Toronto before a packed house at Rogers Centre.

The crushing blow for the Yanks came from Carlos Beltran, who came off the bench to bat for Chris Young once lefthander David Price was replaced on the mound by righthander Aaron Sanchez. Beltran, 0-for-3 previously as a pinch hitter, was overmatched by two 97-mph fastballs from Sanchez but in an old-school approach shortened up on the bat and made solid contact with another 97-mph heater for a three-run home run that headed the Yankees toward a 4-3 victory.

The Yankees had runners on base in seven of eight innings against Price but did not put any of them across the plate until the eighth when Chase Headley followed one-out singles by Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann with his second double of the game to end a 33-inning scoreless drought against Toronto pitching. Next came Beltran and soon the Jays’ 11-game winning streak was history.

Not that it went all that smoothly before the Yankees celebrated. Dellin Betances pitched a perfect eighth inning, but Andrew Miller did another high-wire act in the ninth as a walk, a single and a wild pitch gave the Blue Jays runners on second and third with one out.

With a sellout crowd of 46,689 in the enclosed Rogers Centre creating a postseason atmosphere, Miller truly earned his 26th save by striking out Ben Revere and Troy Tulowitzki, two of the recently-acquired players through trades that have transformed the Jays into serious contenders.

The Tulowitzki at-bat was a chamber of tension climaxed by his swinging and missing the 12th pitch, a hard-breaking slider. The Blue Jays had been 13-0 in games started by Tulowitzki although the Yankees have handled him for the most part. In four games against the Yankees over the past week, Tulowitzki is 2-for-17 (.118) with one home run and two RBI.

Beltran’s 11th home run of the season made a deserving winner of Ivan Nova (5-4), who had one bad inning, the third, when the Blue Jays had three of their five hits off the righthander and all their runs on a fielder’s choice by Tulowitzki, a double by Jose Bautista and a sacrifice fly by Edwin Encarnacion. Nova gave up only two hits in his other six innings.

So the Yankees take a half-game lead into Saturday’s game at Toronto and are two games up on the Jays in the loss column. What a difference a single inning can make.

Yanks end slide before showdown with Blue Jays

The charter flight from Cleveland to Toronto Thursday night got a whole lot cheerier for the Yankees, thanks to an 8-6 victory over the Indians that ended a five-game losing streak and provided a renewed sense of confidence heading into a three-game series against the Blue Jays, who have won 11 games in a row and sit in first place in the American League East by a half-game.

For the first time in more than a week, the Yankees got a big night from their 1-2 hitters, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner, and the offense supplied ample support for their pitching. Nathan Eovaldi extended his personal winning streak to seven games with 5 1/3 serviceable innings, and Andrew Miller rebounded from his first blown save of the season two nights ago to notch save No. 25.

Ellsbury ended a 0-for-19 slump by going 2-for-4 with a walk and a run scored. Gardner reached base four times in five plate appearances with three singles and a walk, drove in three runs and scored one. At the bottom of the order Stephen Drew was on base four times (home run, double, safe on an error, walk), scored four runs and knocked in two.

Brian McCann, who accounted for the Yankees’ only run in Wednesday night’s 2-1 loss to the Indians, was back with his power stroke in the first inning Thursday night with another home run, a three-run jack this time, that gave the Bombers a rare early lead in games over the past week.

McCann connected with two out off Cleveland starter Trevor Bauer to score Ellsbury and Gardner, who made it seem like old times by reaching base together on a single and a walk, respectively.

McCann became the fifth catcher in the modern era (since 1900) to hit at least 20 home runs in nine-or-more seasons (2006, ‘08-’14). He joins a group that also features Mike Piazza (11 times: 1993-2002, ‘06), Johnny Bench (11 times: 1969-75, ‘77-’80), Yogi Berra (10 times: 1949-58) and Gary Carter (1977-80, ‘82, ‘84-’87). McCann also joined Piazza and Berra as the only catchers to hit 20 or more homers in at least eight consecutive seasons.

Twice the Yankees opened up four-run leads over the Indians only to have the Tribe scratch back within striking distance. They even got a run off Miller in the ninth before he settled matters.

Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.36 ERA in 58 2/3 innings and held opposing hitters to a .254 batting average during his winning streak. It was also his sixth straight victory on the road with a 3.57 ERA in 30 innings. Against AL Central clubs this year, Eovaldi is 6-0 with a 3.00 ERA in 39 innings.

It was a rough major-league debut for Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre callup Greg Bird, who spelled Mark Teixeira at first base and was hitless in five at-bats with two strikeouts. But he had some good cuts and played well enough in the field to enjoy that flight to Canada with the rest of his new teammates.

Yanks pluck another prospect from the minors

It has worked so far for Luis Severino. Maybe it will as well for Greg Bird.

It, of course, is being thrown into the major-league fire. Severino, the Yankees’ top pitching prospect, has supplied two strong starts since his call-up from Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to help a rotation that is without Michael Pineda, who is on the 15-day disabled list and will make an injury-rehabilitation start Sunday at Double A Trenton.

Bird, one of the Yankees’ top hitting prospects, was recalled Thursday and was inserted into the lineup for the series finale at Cleveland’s Progressive Field. Bird will play first base and bat seventh in manager Joe Girardi’s lineup. The move gives a break to Mark Teixeira, who has been struggling this month with a .175 batting average, two home runs and four RBI in 40 at-bats.

With the designation for assignment of Garrett Jones for the second time this season, the Yanks were without a legitimate back-up first baseman other than Brendan Ryan, who also fills in at the other three infield positions. Bird, who is 6-foot-5 and 220 pounds, is a pure first baseman who was batting .301 with six home runs and 23 RBI in 34 games at SWB following his July 4 promotion from Trenton where he hit .258 with six homers and 29 RBI in 49 games.

The Yankees certainly can use a jolt in the offense that has gone sour lately with only nine runs scored in the past six games, the last five of which have been losses to drop them out of first place in the American League East by one game to the Blue Jays, who won their 11th straight game Thursday on the eve of a three-game series against the Yankees at Rogers Centre.

Yanks fall out of 1st place with 5th straight loss

First place no longer belongs to the Yankees, and they have no one to blame but themselves. The scoring deficiencies continued Wednesday night as they managed only four hits in a 2-1 loss to the Indians. That is nine runs in the past seven games for the Yanks, who dropped out of the top spot in the American League East for the first time since July 1.

The Blue Jays pushed their winning streak to 10 games with yet another resounding victory over the Athletics, 10-3, to nudge a half-game ahead of the Yankees in the standings. While it is true that the Yankees still have one fewer loss than Toronto they now have two fewer victories that the juggernaut they will face again this weekend at Rogers Centre after completing the three-game series at Cleveland Thursday.

The Yankees have no beef with their pitching, which once more kept them in the game. CC Sabathia, back in his former stomping grounds at Progressive Field, went six innings the night after the Yankees needed eight pitchers to get through a 16-inning loss. He gave his teammates needed length and quality as well.

Sabathia was touched for nine hits but only two runs as the Tribe stranded seven base runners and had 2-for-12 (.167) with runners in scoring position in his time on the mound. But with the Yankees scoring only one run Sabathia was hung with the losing decision that dropped his record to 4-9.

Brian McCann blasted his way out of a 0-for-16 slump with a home run in the second inning, but Indians starter Danny Salazar did not run into trouble again until the seventh but worked out of it. With runners on second and third and one out, Salazar retired Didi Gregorius on a pop in front of the mound and struck out Chris Young.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi could have pinch-hit for Young in that spot with Jacoby Ellsbury, who did not start, but chose not to. I cannot second-guess the skipper there. Ellsbury was benched for good reasons: he is in a 0-for-19 slide and is hitting .178 in 118 at-bats since coming off the disabled list July 8 as his season batting average has plummeted from .324 to .260.

Salazar walked Brett Gardner and Chase Headley with one out in the eighth, but Cody Allen came on and got Alex Rodriguez to ground into a double play. The Yankees’ only threat in the ninth was when McCann reached first base on a third-strike wild pitch. John Ryan Murphy ran for him but was stationary as Carlos Beltran lined out to left and Gregorius struck out.

The Yankees had another solid defensive game, especially Gregorius at shortstop who has been the lone shining light in this dreary stretch of five straight losses. But he took a 0-for-4 collar as part of the slender offensive showing.

The dog days of August are begging to take their toll on Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira, the 3-4 hitters whose turnaround seasons from suspension and injury, respectively, were primary reasons the Yankees had been in first place for the better part of six weeks. A-Rod is batting .162 with two doubles and two RBI in 37 at-bats this month and Tex is hitting .175 with two home runs and four RBI in 40 at-bats.

At the top of the order, Ellsbury and Gardner, who had been the catalysts earlier in the year, are a combined 3-for-39 (.077) with zero runs scored or stolen bases in the losing streak. There is no mystery as to what is sinking the Yankees right now. It is all right there in those unsightly statistics.

Fans contribute to Yankees’ pain

The Yankees are having a tough enough time these days without the fans making it harder for them. After suffering their second straight shutout loss Sunday to complete a three-game sweep by the surging Blue Jays, the Yankees watched their first-place hold in the American League East dwindle to 1 1/2 games to Toronto, which remains three games behind in the loss column.

Make no mistake, however. The race in the division has tightened up to a degree that the Yankees could not have expected 12 days ago when they had a seven-game lead and were eight games up on the Jays, then in third place. The additions of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki and pitcher David Price before the non-waiver trade deadline last month were serious upgrades for Toronto, which the Yanks witnessed first hand during this lost weekend.

And in Sunday’s 2-0 setback they took their lumps literally as well as figuratively. In the first inning after Josh Donaldson hit a long home run to left field off Masahiro Tanaka, a fan threw the ball back onto the field and struck left fielder Brett Gardner on the right side of his head.

“Not at all,” Gardner said when asked if he was upset. “Don’t care. I was just lucky the guy who threw it wasn’t as close as the second row.”

This tradition of tossing back onto the field opponents’ home runs began at Chicago’s Wrigley Field in the 1980s and has been part of the Yankee Stadium experience as well for some time. I must admit that it never made any sense to me. If I were to catch a home run ball in the stands, I would not throw it back onto the field. I would keep it and bring it home to my kids. Why honor a tradition that began with a franchise that has not won a World Series for more than 100 years?

Gardner was kind not to make a big deal out of it. In fact, he even said the fans were correct in getting on him because neither he nor teammate Jacoby Ellsbury did very much at the top of the order in this series. They were a combined 2-for-23 (both hits were singles by Gardner) with two walks and no runs scored in the series.

Less accepting of fans’ behavior was first baseman Mark Teixeira, who was still annoyed after the game that a fan in the box seats interfered with him as he tried to catch a foul ball by Blue Jays designated hitter Chris Colabello in the ninth inning. Colabello eventually struck out, but Tex was still sore about the situation.

“Tell the fans they can insult but not assault,” he said. “I know we just lost three games, and we’re sorry about that. But, please, no assaults, just insults.”

It was that kind of series for the Yankees, who scored only one run in the three games, none in the last two and are in a scoreless streak that has reached 26 innings, their longest in 24 years. The last time the Yankees went this long without scoring was back in the Stump Merrill days of May 15-18, 1991, a stretch of 32 blank innings.

The Yankees were shut out in consecutive games for the first time since May 12-13, 1999 against the Angels and had played 2,665 games between the consecutive shutout streaks, the longest stretch of not being shut out in back-to–back games in major league history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Yankees began the homestand last Tuesday night with a 13-3 victory over the Red Sox. They scored only four runs in their next 45 innings.

“Just a bump in the road,” Teixeira said.

It was actually more like an enormous pothole. The Yankees wasted several strong pitching performances, including Tanaka’s six-inning stint Sunday in which he allowed three hits and no walks with five strikeouts. Unfortunately, two of the hits were home runs. Joining Donaldson was Jose Bautista with a solo blast in the fourth. The Jays out-homered the Yanks in the series, 6-1.

“It is never a good thing to get swept at home by the team that is chasing you,” Gardner said. “We’ll try to have a short-term memory, regroup on the off-day [Monday] and get back to our game in Cleveland. There are still another six or seven weeks left in the season.”

The Yankees found out over the weekend the rest of the season will be more challenging than they may have realized not that long ago.

Jays continue to flex muscles against Yanks

The Blue Jays are not exactly breathing down the Yankees’ necks, but Toronto has certainly made its presence felt in the American League East race this weekend at Yankee Stadium. As recently as July 28, the Yankees had a seven-game lead in the division. After Saturday’s 6-0 loss to the Jays, the Yanks’ spread is down to 2 1/2 games.

Yes, they are four games up on Toronto in the loss column, which is one consolation, but they have been no match for the Jays’ muscle. The recent offensive slump continued against lefthander David Price, whom they had beaten up twice earlier this season (30.86 ERA in 2 1/3 innings) but who was flawless Saturday with seven brilliant innings (three hits, three walks, seven strikeouts).

The Yankees suffered their fourth shutout loss of the season and ended a stretch of nine non-losing series. They had not lost a series since June 29-July 1 when they dropped two of three games to the Angels at Anaheim. The Yanks are 2-6 against the Jays this year and have lost the first three series between them. There is still plenty of baseball left for these clubs against each other. They will meet up again next weekend at Toronto and seven more times in September.

“There is a long way to go,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi noted after the game. “I called this an important series before it started, but we have two months to go so you can’t get overly concerned about two games.”

Nevertheless, Girardi added that Masahiro Tanaka needs to come up big Sunday against Toronto righthander Marco Estrada as well as an offense that has disappeared during this homestand. Since exploding for 13 runs against the Red Sox to open the homestand five days ago, the Yankees have scored four runs in their past 37 innings and none in their past 17. They are hitless in 13 at-bats with runners in scoring position over the past four games, three of them losses.

Ivan Nova was coasting along for five innings matching Price in putting up zeroes until it all came apart in the sixth. Two walks around a single by Jose Bautista, who won Friday night’s game with a 10th-inning home run, filled the bases for Justin Smoak, who belted a 0-1 pitch to right field for his first career grand slam.

Girardi had Adam Warren in the bullpen but counted on Nova’s sinker to get a much-needed ground ball, but the two-seamer had lost its effectiveness by then. Newcomer Troy Tulowitzki was 0-for-7 in the series before he connected in the seventh off Bryan Mitchell for a solo home run.

An error by second baseman Brendan Ryan led to an unearned run in the eighth on a two-out, RBI infield single by Russell Martin, the only one of Toronto’s eight runs in the series that was not the result of a home run.

An 0-for-4 by Mark Teixeira ended his stretch of 24 consecutive games in which he reached base. The Yankees had only five base runners in the game and failed to homer for the first time in 13 games.

Emphasizing the obvious, Girardi said, “We have to start swinging the bats.”

Yankees have fallen into a 2-1 rut

So where was that all that high-powered offense that was expected from the American League’s two most prolific run scoring teams Friday night? The Yankees and the Blue Jays mustered only one run each as the game was pushed into extra innings.

Credit the Yankees’ Nathan Eovaldi and the Jays’ R.A. Dickey with keeping the combustible lineups under control. Solo home runs by Toronto’s Josh Donaldson in the first inning and the Yanks’ Mark Teixeira in the second was all the scoring accomplished in regulation.

It was another solo home run — by Jose Bautista with one out in the 10th off Brandon Pinder — that was the difference in the third consecutive 2-1 game played by the Yankees and the second loss. The other setback was Wednesday night to the Red Sox and Steven Wright, like Dickey a knuckleball pitcher. That flutterball has stymied the Yankees’ offense.

Eovaldi kept his six-game winning streak intact but could not add to it. Same with Dickey, who had won his three previous starts. Since his last loss June 16, Eovaldi has pitched to a 2.87 ERA over 53 1/3 innings in lowering his season ERA from 5.12 to 4.15. In 10 starts this season at Yankee Stadium, the righthander is 4-0 with a 3.41 ERA in 58 innings. He gave the Yankees 6 1/3 quality innings Friday night in allowing five hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

Dickey remains the one former Cy Young Award winner the Yankees have had trouble with this year, and they will face another one Saturday in lefthander David Price, who was recently obtained in a trade from the Tigers. Dickey pitched seven innings and scattered six hits and two walks with three strikeouts.

The Yankees are 6-2 this year in games started by former Cy Young Award winners, who have a combined ERA of 5.48 in those games. Dickey started both of those games the Yankees lost and posted a 1.27 ERA in those starts over 21 1/3 innings.

The loss sliced the Yankees’ lead in the American League East to 3 1/2 games over the Blue Jays, who are nonetheless five games back in the loss column. That is the nail in the coffin in pennant races because a loss cannot be made up so long as the team you are trailing keeps winning.

Still, the Yankees wasted a good pitching effort and used their back end of the bullpen combo of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller in a game they failed to win. It was not the way they wanted to start what may be a critical weekend.

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