Results tagged ‘ Joe Girardi ’

Yanks offer no resistance in blanking to Red Sox

Ronald Torreyes pinch-hit for Alex Rodriguez in the ninth inning Saturday night. It was the first time a player with no home runs in his career batted for a player with 691 homers. That is all you need to know about how the Yankees fared in the game.

This spring-training sort of finish explained the Yankees’ situation. Nothing A-Rod could have done in that at-bat in the final inning was going to do anything other than to avoid a shutout. The Red Sox pushed the Yankees all over Fenway Park for an 8-0 victory behind unbeaten Rick Porcello (5-0), who fashioned a start that the Bombers have seldom gotten from their rotation.

Porcello shut down the Yankees on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts in seven innings as he pitched six or more innings for his 13th straight start since last August. On the other hand, Michael Pineda (1-3) lasted only five innings for the second straight start. Coming off a game in which he yielded five home runs, Pineda kept the ball in the yard this time but exhibited trouble pitching with two outs.

Boston scored two runs after two were gone in the second inning on a single by Christian Vazquez and doubles by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Mookie Betts. Pineda actually pitched well after that, but his pitch count was so high that he had to come out after the fifth.

The Yankees’ bullpen could not keep the game close. Chasen Shreve gave up two runs in the sixth with Bradley a culprit again belting an RBI triple and then scoring on a single by Betts. David Ortiz, who won Friday night’s game with a two-run home run in the eighth, greeted Johnny Barbeto with a solo shot in the seventh. The Red Sox added three more runs on a walk, a single, an error by second baseman Starlin Castro and a two-run triple by Bradley, who has been a one-man wrecking crew in this series. Bradley is 4-for-6 (.667) with two doubles, two triples and five RBI in the series. And he is the 9-hole hitter!

Nevertheless, this was a game the Yankees were still in until the seventh, but their sleepwalking offense had another silent night. The Yankees had five singles and were 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position. They have scored three of fewer runs in 17 of their 22 games, including each of the past seven games.

Manager Joe Girardi is not ready to push the panic button, but the first month of the season is complete and his team has an 8-14 record amid a four-game losing streak with David Price (3-0) looming Sunday night.

A-Rod, Hicks not on disabled list — yet

So Alex Rodriguez did not go on the disabled list after all. Neither did Aaron Hicks as the Yankees apparently have decided to play short in the three-game series against the Rangers that opened the 11-day, nine-game trip, which begins Monday night in Arlington, Texas, and continues to Boston and Baltimore.

Rodriguez, who was forced out of Sunday’s game at Yankee Stadium against the Rays because of stiffness in his left oblique, told reporters in Texas that he was feeling better and might even be able to pinch hit if called upon. Knowing manager Joe Girardi’s history of caution with ailing players, that would seem doubtful. Still, it was a good sign that A-Rod did not go on the DL and might be back earlier than expected.

Hicks, on the other hand, is probably a no-go for the Texas series as he has yet to do any serious work while nursing bursitis in his left shoulder. With yet another lefthander on the mound, Rangers rookie Cesar Ramos, Hicks would have been in the lineup if healthy.

Due to the roster shortage, Girardi was forced to start three left-handed hitting outfielders. Dustin Ackley was to make his first major-league start in right field (and only his third game there overall) in joining left fielder Brett Gardner and center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Regular right fielder Carlos Beltran took Rodriguez’s place as the designated hitter. Second baseman Starlin Castro was moved to the 5-hole to give the Yankees some right-handed pop in thge middle of the order with the switch-hitting Beltran, Mark Teixeira and Chase Headley.

There was more troubling news on the injury front. James Kaprelian, the Yankees’ first-round selection in last year’s First Year Player Draft, was examined by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad in New York and found to have inflammation in his right elbow after an MRI exam. The righthander will rest the elbow before beginning a throwing program. Kaprelian was off to a strong start for Class A Tampa in the Florida State League with a 2-1 record and a 1.50 ERA.

After getting a second opinion from noted orthopedist Dr. James Andrews, pitcher Branden Pinder has decided to have Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He will be out for the remainder of the season.

Five Rays homers cost Yanks shot at sweep

Michael Pineda endured a nightmare of a first inning Sunday that put a damper on a bright, sunshine day in which the Yankees were shooting for their first series sweep since Aug. 28-30 last year at Atlanta. Instead, they fell back into the cellar of the American League East and hobbled their way to Arlington, Texas, to begin an 11-day, nine-game trip that starts Monday night against a Rangers team that is tied for first place in the AL West.

Five pitches into Sunday’s game before a crowd of 40,931 at Yankee Stadium, Pineda had two outs and nobody on base. He then gave up hits to the next six batters, including two doubles and two home runs, as the aggressive Rays attacked him early in the count to put up a five-spot against which the Yankees brought little resistance in falling, 8-1.

The only positive for Pineda Sunday was that he managed to pitch through the fifth inning, which spared manager Joe Girardi of digging too deep into his already overworked bullpen. Masahiro Tanaka’s seven-inning start Saturday helped, but Girardi knew from the outset Sunday that he did not have Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller available. This game turned out not to be the type in which either of the late-inning shutdown guys works.

Birthday boy Steven Souza celebrated turning 27 with two home runs, a two-run shot in the first and a solo blast in the fifth. Pineda also gave up dingers to Corey Dickerson following a two-out double off the top of the center field wall by Evan Longoria in the first inning and to Steve Pearce leading off the third. Logan Forsythe, who had three hits, joined the home run derby with Tampa Bay’s fifth of the game, a solo shot in the eighth off Nick Goody.

It was also Carlos Beltran’s birthday. The Yankees right fielder turned 39 but did not have as explosive a game as Souza. Beltran was 1-for-4. His first-inning single off eventual winning pitcher Drew Smyly was career hit No. 2,472 for Beltran, who tied Ted Simmons for 10th place among switch hitters. In ninth place at 2,605 is Tim Raines.

The day turned grimmer for the Yankees when Alex Rodriguez, who has driven in their only run with a two-out double in the fourth inning, could not bat when his turn came up again in the sixth. Girardi had to use the left-handed hitting Dustin Ackley as a pinch hitter against the lefty-throwing Smyly (although Ackley singled for his first hit of the season, in his eighth at-bat).

An MRI exam on Rodriguez’s sore left oblique was negative, but the situation shows the dilemma the Yankees are in with Aaron Hicks already out several days because of traumatic bursitis in his left shoulder. The Yanks have proved vulnerable to left-handed pitching. They are 2-5 against left-handed starters and are batting .225 with two home runs overall in 213 at-bats off lefties. Against right-handed pitching, the Yankees are batting .246 with 16 home runs in 358 at-bats.

The Yankees said that A-Rod will make the trip to Texas. But if he cannot play right away, and that is very likely considering how lingering oblique injuries tend to be, and with Hicks out as well, the Yankees lose two right-handed bats. Switch-hitter Nick Swisher, who was released by Atlanta and signed a Triple A contract with the Yankees, is playing for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre but is not on the 40-man roster. The Yankees are not believed interested in dropping anyone off the 40-man roster at this time, which limits their options if they make an internal move for outfield and DH help. The best bet for a call-up would be outfielder Ben Gamel, who is hitting .300 with a .368 on-base percentage at SWB but alas bats left-handed.

The Yanks have known along that staying healthy is a challenge to a team with aging players. The upcoming trip that continues to AL East rival stops in Boston and Baltimore could be a major test for them.

Weapons old and new sustain Yankees

The Yankees have a new weapon in their offensive arsenal this year. It is called catcher’s interference whereby a player is awarded first base if the opposing catcher interferes with the batter’s swing.

For the third time in a season that is only 16 games old for the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury reached base Saturday due to catcher’s interference, in this case that of Tampa Bay’s Hank Conger. It was a painful play as well for Conger, who hurt his left hand and had to come out of the game.

The situation kept a rally alive for the Yankees in the seventh inning. It came on a 3-2 pitch, which is Ellsbury’s favorite count these days. Friday night, he stole home on a 3-2 pitch to Brett Gardner, an unusual decision to say the least.

The catcher’s interference call loaded the bases for the Yanks with two out. Gardner followed with a laser-beam line drive off the glove of pitcher Xavier Cedeno, one of three lefthanders Rays manager Kevin Cash threw against the Bombers in the game. Cedeno keep the ball from getting to the outfield, but the infield single was good enough to score the tying run.

Knotting the score at that point put the Yankees in position to use their favorite bullpen formula, Dellin Betances in the eighth and Andrew Miller in the ninth.

Masahiro Tanaka, who had a strong outing (two runs, five hits, one walk, seven strikeouts, one home run in seven innings) was off the hook with a no-decision. So, too, was Tampa Bay rookie Blake Snell, who held the Yankees to two hits and a walk with six strikeouts over five innings in an impressive major-league debut.

It was the Yankees’ more traditional weapon that settled Saturday’s game, a jolting home run by Gardner with two outs in the bottom of the ninth off Erasmo Ramirez, the only righthander in the game for the Rays.

Stacking lefties against the Yankees is a tactic by opponents. Cash will throw another lefthander, Drew Smyly, against the Yankees and Michael Pineda Sunday in the series finale. The idea, of course, is to neutralize Ellsbury and Gardner, left-handed outfielders at the top of the batting order. Yankees manager Joe Girardi had taken to sitting one of them and using right-handed Aaron Hicks in the outfield against lefties, but Hicks got hurt Friday night and will be out for several more days because of traumatic bursitis in his left shoulder, so Ellsbury and Gardner were both in the lineup and had a huge game.

They combined to reach base five times in 10 plate appearances. Gardner had both RBI for the Yankees. Their other run was scored in the first inning on a wild pitch by Snell, who settled down after that. It was the first walk-off victory for the Yankees this season, and the second game-winning homer of Gardner’s career. The other was Aug. 11, 2013 against the Tigers.

Gardner has been the Yankees’ most consistent hitter on the homestand by batting .444 with five runs, two doubles, two home runs, four RBI and five walks in seven games and 25 at-bats.

This has been a big bounce back series for the Yanks, who were swept by Oakland and dropped two of three to Seattle in stumbling into last place in the American League East. They switched places with the Rays with the victories Friday night and Saturday.

Before the game, the Yankees saluted CC Sabathia, wife and mother Marge for their PitCCh In Foundation’s initiative to renovate a baseball field at Claremont Park in the Bronx. The Sabathia’s thanked supporters of the project to refurbish the facility at the corner of Clay and Webster Avenues at a cost of approximately $500,000. Partners involved with the Claremont Park project included members from the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the Yankees, the New York Police Department’s 44th Precinct and Roc Nation. The Foundation dedicated the field renovation to the Rolando Paulino Little League, which was represented by board member Emily Rufino and Little League players Justin Zapata and Elias Barcacel

Hicks well-armed for Yankees

Aaron Hicks, who made some news Wednesday night for his arm strength, drew first blood for the Yankees offensively Thursday night with a single on a soft fly ball to center field to drive in a run. The Yankees entered the game batting .189 in 111 at-bats with runners in scoring position (.089 over their previous eight games), so a clutch hit was welcomed.

It was also a boost to Hicks, who had been hitless in his 17 prior at-bats. He had another strong game in the field. In the fourth inning, he climbed the wall along the left field line to glove a foul fly by Chris Coghlan. Two innings later, Hicks showed off that powerful arm again by throwing out Jed Lowrie trying to stretch a single into a double.

Those plays accounted for the highlights in another Yankees loss, 7-3, to the Athletics, who swept the three-game series.

Hicks was in the starting lineup for the second straight night because manager Joe Girardi wanted to load up on right-handed hitters against Oakland lefthander Rich Hill, who gave up one earned run and three hits with 10 strikeouts in six innings. An errant pickoff by Hill allowed Alex Rodriguez to cross from first base to third base in the fourth inning and resulted in an unearned run with A-Rod scoring on a dribbling single to the left side by Austin Romine.

Brett Gardner was on the bench still nursing a stiff neck, although Girardi said the left fielder would have started if the Athletics had started a right-handed pitcher. Romine started behind the plate for Brian McCann, who is 1-for-18 (.056) in the homestand.

Also on the bench was lefty-hitting shortstop Didi Gregorius with righty-swinging Ronald Torreyes starting instead. Girardi had been critical of Gregorius’ poor base running Wednesday when he ran them out of a rally but told reporters not to read anything into Gregorius sitting down and claimed it was just part of getting another right-handed bat in the lineup.

The only left-handed batter in the Yanks’ lineup was center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury. Good thing, too. After a shaky few games in the field, Ellsbury made a diving catch in the top of the first inning to rob Mark Canha of a potential run-scoring extra base hit. Ellsbury had a good night at the plate as well with three singles.

Gardner, McCann and Gregorius all entered the game as pinch hitters in the seventh inning when Hill was replaced by righthander Fernando Rodriguez. Yankees starter Luis Severino failed to hold two one-run leads in six innings, but the loss went to Chasen Shreve, who gave up home runs to Khris Davis and Coco Crisp on the first two pitches of the seventh. Coghlan homered off Johny Barbato in the eighth. It was a grim night for the bullpen (five earned runs, three hits, three walks, two strikeouts, three home runs in three innings).

Hicks’ throw from left field that cut down Oakland’s Danny Valencia at the plate to end the fourth inning Wednesday night was recorded at 105.5 miles per hour by MLB Statcast. It was the fastest throw by an outfielder since Statcast debuted at the start of the 2015 season. The previous best was 103.1 mph by the Astros’ Carlos Gomez in September 2015.

It was announced Wednesday that the Grapefruit League drew an average of 7,096 fans per game this spring, the first time in the 100-year history of spring training in Florida that teams eclipsed 7,000 in attendance. The Yankees averaged 10,053 fans per home game at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa to lead the Grapefruit League in attendance for the third consecutive season.

Runs still tough to come by

A miserable fourth inning was the ugly centerpiece of the Yankees’ 5-2 loss to Oakland as they have now lost their second straight series at home to an American League West club. The inning ended somewhat triumphantly on a dart of a throw to the plate by left fielder Aaron Hicks, but baseballs seemed to evade Yankees gloves throughout the frame.

Nathan Eovaldi, breezing along on a one-hit shutout to that point, got off to a messy start of the inning yielding back-to-back doubles to Billy Burns and Craig Coghlan that took away the 1-0 lead Didi Gregorius had provided in the second with his second home run of the season.

Josh Reddick broke the tie with a run-scoring single to left. Reddick went to third on Danny Valencia’s single to center and scored on a fly ball by Stephen Vogt. The Yankees lost a shot at an inning-ending double play when third baseman Chase Headley bobbled a grounder by Jed Lowrie and Gregorius dropped Headley’s toss to second base for an error. A single off Headley’s glove by Khris Davis loaded the bases.

Then Hicks came to the rescue. After gloving Yonder Alonso’s fly to medium left field, Hicks threw a pea to catcher Brian McCann to complete the double play. Hicks, who has struggled at the plate (.050), finally made a major contribution in keeping the game from getting out of hand. He was a last-minute substitute for Brett Gardner, who has been scratched from the game due to a stiff neck.

But the Yankees could not get themselves back into the game offensively. They wasted golden opportunities in the first and seventh innings especially. Alex Rodriguez struck out looking in the first stranding the bases loaded. With runners on second and third and one out in the seventh, Gregorius made a bad read on a grounder by Hicks and was tagged out by Coghlan, the third baseman who then threw to first base for a huge double play that wounded the Yankees. They had another 0-fer game with runners in scoring position (0-for-4). The only other run came on Carlos Beltran’s fourth homer, a solo shot in the eighth.

“We’re just not scoring runs right now,” manager Joe Girardi understated after the game.  “It is hard to win if you don’t score.”

In the past eight games, the Yankees have scored more than three runs in a game just once, and their total in that game was merely four. They are averaging 4.1 runs per game. Of their 53 runs, 16 came in one game.

Adding to the embarrassment, the Yankees not only did not solve Athletics starter Kendall Graveman but also could not take advantage of the pitcher having to bat from the fourth inning on, a first at the current Yankee Stadium, which opened in 2009. Valencia strained a hamstring on the play at the plate. Short on infielders, Oakland manager Bob Melvin had to pull Lowrie from the designated hitter spot and play him at second base with Coghlan moving from second to third to take over for Valencia. That turned Graveman and three A’s relievers into cleanup hitters. Graveman batted once and struck out. When’s the pitcher’s spot came up again, in the eighth, pinch hitter Billy Butler singled to start a rally that produced two more runs on a bases-loaded single by Davis.

Such productive hitting is precisely what the Yankees lack these days.

Gardner out with stiff neck

Remember that tumble Brett Gardner took into the stands last week in Toronto to catch a foul ball by the Blue Jays’ Ryan Goins? Well, the left fielder has been aching ever since and Wednesday night he was scratched from the Yankees’ lineup against the Athletics at Yankee Stadium because of a stiff neck believed related to the incident at Rogers Centre.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi reshuffled the batting order with Gardner down. Starlin Castro, who had been in the seventh spot, was moved into Gardner’s 2-hole. Aaron Hicks was inserted in left field and batting ninth. Chase Headley, who was originally at the bottom of the order, was moved up to seventh.

Prior to Wednesday, Gardner displayed no ill effects from the injury. Just the opposite. He is hitting .500 on the homestand with three runs, two doubles, one home run and two RBI in 16 at-bats.

Nova still adapting to reliever’s role

The invincibility of the Yankees’ bullpen took a hit Wednesday night due mainly because of a pitcher not used to working in relief. In his previous appearance a week ago at Yankee Stadium, Ivan Nova earned his first career save with four shutout innings against the Astros.

So Yankees manager Joe Girardi had every reason to believe that they could remain within a run’s reach of the Blue Jays when he brought in Nova to hold them down in the eighth inning after Mark Teixeira’s third home run of the season had cut Toronto’s lead to 3-2. Nova, who was beaten out in the spring for a spot in the rotation by CC Sabathia, had a miserable time of it in yielding four runs as the Jays pulled away for a 7-2 victory.

“It’s different for him.” Girardi said about Nova’s new role, “but we need him to get outs.”

Toronto scored a run before Nova got an out that inning on doubles by Josh Donaldson and Jose Bautista. The two-base hit was big for the Jays, who have not homered in either game of the series but lashed out six doubles Wednesday night, including two by 9-hole hitter Ryan Goins, who had three hits and two RBI. After getting Edwin Encarnacion out on a ground ball, Nova gave up an RBI single to Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Saunders’ second double of the game on a late swing against the shift.

Russell Martin knocked in a run with a sacrifice fly for the second out, but Nova hit Justin Smoak in the foot with a pitch and gave up a run-scoring single to Goins. The four runs allowed by Nova raised his ERA from 0.00 to 7.20 and that of the overall bullpen from a league-best 0.84 to 2.31.

Michael Pineda got through six innings but threw 105 innings and was uncharacteristically wild with three walks. Goins’ first double with two out in the second put Toronto ahead. After tying the score in the fifth against J.A. Happ on a double by Ronald Torreys, a single by Austin Romine and an infield out, an errant throw by Torreys, who played shortstop with Didi Gregorius getting a night off, opened the door for two Toronto runs. Smoak scored on the wild throw, and Goins came home as Donaldson grounded into a double play.

Kirby Yates pitched a shutout seventh with two strikeouts to extend the bullpen’s scoreless string to 7 1/3 innings before Nova came unglued in the eighth.

Yankees mere kittens against Tigers

Might have things gone differently for the Yankees Friday if Alex Rodriguez, Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran had been in the lineup instead of on the bench in Detroit? Perhaps, but probably not. Jordan Zimmermann, in his first start for the Tigers since departing the Nationals and signed as a free agent, was strong enough Friday to shut down any lineup.

Get used to it, Yankees fans. With all the advanced age on the team roster, there are going to be days like Friday when manager Joe Girardi has to give some of his older players a blow. True, it was only the fourth game of the season, but Monday’s rainout forced the Yanks to play three games in a row against the Astros, which certainly played into Girardi’s decision.

There was no way McCann was going behind the plate for a fourth straight day. Giving Rodriguez a day off against a tough righthander allowed Mark Teixeira to be the designated hitter and take a break from first base. Beltran simply does not have the leg to play right field on a daily basis.

So Girardi went with a lineup that featured role players filling in for regulars behind the plate (Austin Romine), first base (Dustin Ackley) and right field (Aaron Hicks). The trio combined to go hitless with one walk (Romine) in nine plate appearances, but the rest of the batting order did not do much damage, either, as the Yankees were shutout victims just two days after they scored 16 runs in one game.

The run the Tigers scored in the first inning off Luis Severino on a single by Miguel Cabrera would be all they would need behind Zimmerman, who allowed two hits and three walks over seven innings, and two relievers, including former Yankees lefthander Justin Wilson. Detroit pitchers even cooled off red-hot Starlin Castro (0-for-4) and Didi Gregorius (0-for-3).

Detroit bunched four singles off Severino in the two-run fourth. The righthander ended up allowing 10 hits in five-plus innings although Ian Kinsler’s leadoff double in the first was the only hit for extra bases. The second of the Tigers’ 13 hits that went for extra bases was Cabrera’s first home run of the season, off Luis Cessa in the seventh.

The Yankees had only one runner get as far as second base.That was Teixeira in the seventh after a walk on a wild pitch by Zimmermann.

For the second straight game, Yankees pitchers did not walk a batter, but there was no paucity of base runners for the Tigers in their home opener. Johnny Barabato had another strong outing with two strikeouts in the seventh. The righthander has struck out five of the nine batters he has faced this season.

CC Sabathia is scheduled to start Saturday afternoon at Comerica Park to complete the rotation’s first turn. It has been an overall shabby start for the starters, who are a combined 1-2 with a 6.97 ERA. The best thing about the rotation has been its strikeout-to-walk ratio with 21 Ks and only one walk, but starters have allowed 28 hits, including six home runs, in 20 2/3 innings. That must improve.

When in doubt, hit a runner on wayward path

The bullpen is supposed to be a major strength for the Yankees this year. The trade for Aroldis Chapman from the Reds added the game’s fiercest flame thrower to a back end of the pen that already featured last year’s 1-2 punch of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller. Chapman is serving a suspension until May, but the Yankees feel protected in the interim because of the presence of Betances and Miller.

So it was a decided downer that a shaky inning by Betances in the eighth Tuesday sent the Yankees to their fifth straight Opening Day defeat. The Astros came back from a 2-0 deficit against Masahito Tanaka for a 5-3 victory. Betances was tagged with the loss, but this one probably should have an asterisk. The three runs he allowed that inning were all not earned, although that was because of an error that Betances himself committed. But that errant throw occurred on a disputed play yet one that is not reviewable by observing video replays.

You have seen this play plenty of times. A runner heading from the plate to first base runs on the grass, which forces the pitcher to elevate his throw to first base. In this case, Betances’ high toss sailed past first baseman Mark Teixeira, which allowed Jose Altuve, who led off the inning with a single and stole second base, to score the tie breaking run. Betances walked a batter and struck out another subsequently but gave up a single to Luis Valbuena that sent home two more runs.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi got into a heated argument with plate umpire Dana DeMuth, who at least agreed to confer with his fellow umps,but the safe call on Carlos Correa’s dash to first on the squibling grounder fielded by Betances stood.

As I watched the play unfold, I though that the best thing Betances could have done was just throw the ball at Correa. Had the ball hit him while he was clearly on the grass, Correa almost certainly would have been called out. I have advocated this for years and even suggested it should be practiced in spring training (with runners wearing protective gear naturally).

Girard even acknowledged that had Betances done that Correa would have been called out, “but is that what we want?” the manager wondered.

Well, you want an out in that situation, and spearing the runner apparently is the only way to get it if a video replay is not available for a second look. Girardi said DeMuth told him he did not think Correa’s path impeded the first baseman’s ability to make a play. Really? With the height of Betances’ throw over Correa, the only chance for the Yankees to get an out there would have been if Wilt Chamberlain was playing first base.

Correa, the American League winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award last year, was all over this game. He mishandled a grounder that had the potential for an inning-ending double play that opened the door to the Yankees’ first two runs on Starlin Castro’s two-out double in the second. Correa’s home run off Tanaka in the sixth, the righthander’s last inning, tied the score at 2. And there was Correa in the middle of all the commotion in the eighth.

The winning decision went to 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner Dallas Keuchel, who had a 23-inning scoreless streak against the Yankees stopped but got 12 consecutive outs from the fourth through the seventh to keep Houston in the game. Didi Gregorius made it 5-3 in the bottom of the eighth with a leadoff home run, but the Yankees did not get a base runner after that.

Johnny Barbato, the James P. Dawson Award winner as the top rookie in the Yankees’ spring training camp, made his major league debut in the eighth. He hit Astros designated hitter Preston Tucker on the right wrist with his first pitch, then settled down and retired the next four hitters, three on strikeouts.

The Yankees’ offense had a subdued game. The first three hitters were a combined 0-for-10, although Alex Rodriguez managed to steal a base on those 40-year-old legs.

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