Last night basically broke down into 2 separate 8-inning games. The Yankees scored 2 runs in each of those mini-games, more than they had been scoring over the weekend but not enough to pull out a much needed win. The top of the lineup continued to suck, and Andrew Miller blew his first save of the season in extra innings to send the Yankees home losers for the fourth straight game.
If there is one silver lining to take from last night, it was the encouraging start by Luis Severino and the fact that he didn't let the game get out of hand early. He was not sharp in the first 2 innings, missing his spots with his fastball and falling behind too many batters. That's a dangerous approach against a team that draws walks and makes contact, and the Indians made Severino pay with 2 runs on 5 base hits in the first 2.
It looked like it was going to be a struggle to make it through 5, but Severino settled down and found his command after stranding a leadoff double in the 3rd. He gave up just 1 more hit and no runs over the next 3 innings, mixing pitches to keep the Cleveland hitters off balance. It wasn't the strikeout-fest that his debut turned into, but it was a great mid-game adjustment and a gutsy performance by the 21-year-old to rebound from the rough start and make it through 6 without further damage.
Severino keeping the game close allowed the Yankee offense to slow plod its way back into contention. As has been the case recently, the top of the lineup did nothing to help create or cash in on run-scoring chances. Instead it was the long ball that played the biggest role, in the form of Stephen Drew's solo home run to lead off the top of the 6th and Carlos Beltran's to lead off the top of the 8th. Other than that, the Yanks did a whole lot of nothing against Carlos Carrasco, who struck out 8 over 8 innings of 2-run ball.
Those homers were enough to send the game to extras, and it didn't take long for the Yankees to push a few more runs across and pull ahead. A 1-out walk to Brian McCann and back-to-back singles by Beltran and Didi Gregorius loaded the bases, and after Drew grounded into a force out at home, Chase Headley came up to pinch hit. He came through with a super clutch 2-strike, 2-run single to give the Yankees the lead, and it was practically in the bag when they turned it over to Andrew Miller for the save.
And then Miller went and blew the save. Infield single, Michael Brantley double to left, and the tying run was in scoring position before an out was recorded. Carlos Santana hit a sac fly for out number 1, but Yan Gomes singled to right to plate the tying run before Miller finally got it together and struck out the next 2 hitters. Crushing blow to blow that lead. Crushing.
The Yankee hitters played like it for the next 5 innings too. After putting 4 men on base in the 10th, they managed only 2 from there on out and none after the 12th. Bryan Mitchell did a helluva job in tossing 3 shutout innings to extend the game, but eventually the game made it to Branden Pinder and he couldn't replicate that multi-inning success. He threw a 1-2-3 15th, then gave up 3 straight singles with 1 out in the 16th to take the walk-off loss. Hard to blame him, or even the crappy offense to be honest. This one's on Miller.
- 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K for Severino. He threw 57 strikes on 97 pitches and only got 6 whiffs this time. In a way, this was almost better than his first start. He showed that he can adjust when a team is attacking him a certain way and use his offspeed pitches effectively to get outs when he doesn't have his best swing-and-miss stuff.
- Player of the game for the Yankees was probably Didi. He went 3-6 with a run scored and started a spectacular double play that helped hold the Indians to 1 run in the 2nd. He's really the only guy in the lineup playing consistently well right now.
- Beltran also had a nice 2-4 night with the homer and 2 runs scored. He's chugging right along at .264/.325/.448.
- In contrast, that top of the order. Woof! Ellsbury, Gardner, A-Rod, and Teix combined to go 1-25 with 2 walks and 9 strikeouts. That is unfathomably bad.
- Really nice work by Mitchell, who struck out 5 in his 3 innings and threw some big pitches to get out of trouble created by 2 hits and 2 walks. He threw 60 pitches, so he's probably going back down to Triple-A today. That blows. Pinder might be going down too. We'll see.
- Ellsbury is down to .260/.330/.351 on the year. I said he was fine, he starts playing worse. I said we should feel confident heading into this series, the Yanks lose in 16 innings on their closer's first blown save of the year. Maybe I just should stop blogging for a while. Clearly I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.