The West Coast road trip from hell continues. The Yankees losing streak hit 4 tonight with another close loss. It is their second consecutive loss decided by one run and their third in the last four game. The formula here, again, was simple: the offense fought back to make it a game that seemed winnable, but the bullpen failed to hold on. Pretty annoying! Without two of their best bullpen arms unavailable as of late (Adam Warren and Aroldis Chapman) and Dellin Betances not an option tonight, the Yankees had to rely on the other guys to hold out and, of course, they failed. The AL East lead has decreased to one (1) game after the Red Sox beat the Astros tonight. Not good again! It’s Friday night so let’s do it bullet-style.
- Falling behind: As you know the Yankees have not had the finest past three games and it seemed like the things were going to get worse when Luis Severino allowed four runs in the second inning. Remember, the Yankees had a Spring Training squad lineup for this and their bullpen is very, very limited (Jonathan Holder was the 8th inning guy, for chrissakes) so Severino doing well today was pretty vital. Here is the sequence of events that happened:
None of the hits were cheapies in this one. Severino’s command was off and the A’s hitters punished him accordingly. The 2016 Severino showed up only for this inning. Fortunately, this was the only inning in which he really stunk. He had an overall 6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 6 K night – it’s not the best but really not bad considering the second inning. He bounced back nicely and managed to give the bullpen less inning to work with than we had feared.
- All Rise: The Yankees made it a game again immediately. In the top of the third, two Yankees reached on infield singles (Ronald Torreyes and Rob Refsnyder) and Aaron Judge delivered the big blow with his 23rd HR of the year. 4-3 A’s. It wasn’t hit particularly hard but still traveled beyond the right field fence for an opposite-field HR. Ho-hum. This guy is good. Judge had a 2-for-3 night with two walks, bringing his season line up to .339/.447/.713. Judge’s insane rookie season continues.
- Getting ahead: The Yankees tied it up in the fifth inning. With one out, Torreyes hit a deep double and Mason Williams followed it up with an RBI single to make it 4-4. The bats eventually loaded the bases with Judge and Matt Holliday walks, but they did not score more in that frame. No worries, Chris Carter to the rescue. The first baseman led off the sixth inning with a solo homer to break the tie, 5-4 Yankees. The bats added on another in the top of the seventh. With one out, Judge hit a triple to the deep center and Starlin Castro drove him in with a single up the middle. Optimism!
- Bullpen fail: A 6-4 lead would be much more secure with a regular bullpen routine of Betances – Chapman but we are talking about putting middle-leverage guys into high-leverage situations. With Severino out of the game, Girardi put in Chasen Shreve as the 7th inning guy. After striking out Matt Chapman, Shreve walked pinch-hitting Rajai Davis and allowed a single to Matt Joyce to put the runners on the corners. Chad Pinder hit a sac fly to make the score 6-5 Yankees. Things would get worse when Jonathan Holder (!) was summoned out of the bullpen as the 8th inning guy. With one out, Yonder Alonso walked and Ryon Healy hit a deep double to center to make it two runners on scoring position. The Yankee bench intentionally walk Stephen Vogt to load the bases and have Holder face the rookie Matt Chapman. After getting ahead on a 0-2 count, Holder threw a curveball that should’ve been buried on the ground but hung up just enough for Chapman to hit his first ML hit for a 2-RBI single. 7-6 A’s. Welp. That’s how the score stayed for good and Yankees lost 4 in a row.
Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph. The Yankees still have two games left to go on this road trip. They have a 4 pm EST game tomorrow in Oakland. Masahiro Tanaka is on the mound against Jesse Hahn. Hold on tight, folks. We are not out of it yet.