Game 103. Pitching woes continue in Yanks’ 10-5 loss.

Yankee Stadium Frieze

For the third straight time, James Paxton gave up a HR to the leadoff hitter.

And this time, that leadoff hitter then proceeded to go deep two MORE times against Paxton.

Mookie Betts hit three HR, all in the FIRST FOUR INNINGS, off of Paxton, to lead Boston to a 10-5 win over the (66-37) Yankees Friday night.

The loss cuts the Yanks’ lead to 8 1/2 over Tampa Bay and 9 over Boston.

Paxton has struggled, while targets like Patrick Corbin, Gio Gonzalez, and Dallas Keuchel are doing Ok elsewhere. Three guys the Yanks could have had (they had Gio, but he opted out when there was no room in the rotation for him).

Also disheartening is when guys like Paxton or Sonny Gray have success elsewhere (and what do you think Gray would tell his former Vanderbilt teammate, Mike Minor of Texas, a trade target, about NY?) come to NY and don’t do well. In Gray’s case, now that he is out of NY, he’s doing well again. You could put J.A. Happ in that category for this year, but to be fair, Happ did pitch well last year for the Yanks before the playoff outing.

Another disheartening thing is not having some players, like Michael Pineda or Nathan Eovaldi, realize their potential while in pinstripes.

You may say, that some guys can’t pitch in NY. True. But when it happens over and over and over again, that pitchers good elsewhere come to NY and have difficulties, when do you start looking at the pitching coach, and not just blame it on NY?

Remember that Larry Rothschild was inherited by Aaron Boone. Boone picked some, not all, of his coaching staff. He inherited the pitching part, Rothschild and bullpen coach Mike Harkey.

If the Yanks don’t turn this abysmal week by the starting pitchers around, they not only could blow their lead (Boston worries me more than Tampa Bay, because the Rays have now lost Snell for a month) and if so, could Rothschild be on the hot seat? The next few months will be very interesting to see how the starting pitching does. Because if it continues to flounder as it has, it won’t be good. Changes would have to be made, and maybe not just the pitchers but also the coach. Maybe this is only a blip. We hope so.

For the first 14 games of July, the Yanks’ starter’s ERA was 2.88. In the last six games, an atrocious 15.61. The Yanks have given up 64 runs in their last six games. 10.66 per game. Amazingly, they won two of those games. No Yankee starter in the last six games has pitched in the fifth inning. None in seven games has pitched in the sixth.

Forget about any of these starters, even when they are going GOOD, pitching in the seventh, eighth or ninth. They just don’t do that.

One worry I have is this. Even if they rebound, and wind up with 100 to 105 wins, who, amongst all the starters in the rotation, do you absolutely trust to start a must-win postseason game? A fair question, I think. None are “old reliable” Andy Pettitte’s, El Duque’s, or David Cone’s.

With this bad stretch, the Yanks’ ERA+, which was about 110 most of the year, has dropped to 104, just 4% above league average. No starter has an ERA less than 4.00.

Tanaka 7-6, 4.79. ERA+ 93 (7 % below league average)
Happ 8-5, 5.23  ERA+ 86
German 12-2, 4.03  ERA+ 111 ( his youth and inexperience are a concern)
Sabathia 5-5, 4.50  ERA+ 99
Paxton 5-6, 4.72  ERA+ 95.

As I mentioned, which of these would you trust to start a must-win playoff game? It’s a huge concern.

One last thing before the game recap. Could it be that Boston sees some guys tipping pitches or has some Yankee pitching been too consistent in their approach? Rumors are that Severino was tipping pitches in Game 3 of the ALDS last year. Boston has pounded Tanaka this year, and Tanaka thought he made good pitches at some points the other night. Did Boston know what was coming? Paul O’Neill on WPIX last night mentioned Boston waiting for hard stuff inside from Paxton, got it, and creamed it.

Paxton’s line is strange. 9 K in 4 IP. But 4 HR given up, 3 to Betts, 7 runs allowed.

If guys ARE tipping, why isn’t the pitching staff seeing it? Remember that Chad Green was straightened out at AAA, not by the major league staff. Once sent down, he worked it out. Also, Jonathan Holder has had to go down. He also, couldn’t work it out at the big league level.

Could there be a problem with the pitching coach? Sorry, Rothschild, but that has to be addressed right now. To stop that, the starting pitching, once again, has to improve, and IMMEDIATELY.

Let’s remember that Gray took some parting shots at Rothschild on the way out to Cincinnati, where Gray is doing well. Could there be something to what Gray said?

And it’s not just Rothschild. Let’s remember that the Yanks lost out on possibly getting Verlander, Cole, Corbin, Keuchel, and Gonzalez, all of whom could certainly be helping right now.  If the Yanks would have just one of those right now…

So something is amiss with their pitching philosophy. Whether it is the coach, or the whole organizational approach of what is coached, who is targeted, what you’ll give up for a stud pitcher…

Anyway you look at it, corrections and improvements are necessary. The Yanks have two more games against Boston this weekend, and after two games against Arizona on Tuesday and Wednesday, have four more against Boston next Friday to Sunday, including a DH on Saturday. If they don’t turn it around, and FAST, Boston could be right back in it. Let’s just say Boston takes 6 of 8 in the games this weekend and next. The lead goes from 11 to 7. If they take 7 of the 8, it’s 5. Sweep and 3. Yankees’ fans don’t want 1978 in reverse. Yes, there is the wild card to fall back on, and that wasn’t there in 1978. We don’t want that. Win the division, avoid the wild card game.

This is the time to bury Boston, not have them rise from the dead. So far, the shovels have been put away. Boston has woken up.

As for making a trade, I am getting really discouraged that that may happen. Teams are asking for Gleyber Torres in any deal. That is a non-starter. The two-time All-Star, who has hit 20 or more HR in both of his MLB seasons, isn’t even 23 yet.

As for the game, Paxton gave up, as noted above, a leadoff HR to Betts, marking the third straight time he gave up a HR to the first batter of the game. He has had (like German) first inning woes all season. Then a single, strikeout and HR (by J.D. Martinez) and it was 3-0 already. After the week the Yanks have had, it was like here we go again.

A HR by Betts and an RBI triple by Martinez made it 5-0 after three innings.

Then Betts hits his THIRD HR of the game to make it 7-0 in the fourth.

The Yanks got a run in the sixth when with two out, they got consecutive singles by Encarnacion, Gregorius and Voit.

Boston got two in the bottom of the sixth to make it 9-1. Betts doubled in one run and scored the other on another double. He was 4 for 5 with 5 RBI—3 HR and a double.

Before the game, Stephen Tarpley was sent down and Cameron Maybin came off the IL. Maybin walked to lead off the seventh, and went to third on a double by Mike Tauchman. Austin Romine singled in one run, and another scored when D.J. LeMahieu GIDP.

Boston got a run in the bottom of the seventh, 10-3.

The Yanks got two in the ninth before succumbing. Tauchman led off the inning with a single, and scored on a double by Romine. A walk to LeMahieu and an error on a ball hit by Judge loaded the bases. But then three consecutive outs ended the game. One out was a SF by Gregorius.

It is hard to win when you are giving up 10 or more runs a game.

Tauchman 3 hits
Romine 3 hits, 2 RBI

Paxton (L, 5-6, 4.72) 4 IP, 7 R, 9 H, 0 W, 9 K. Gave up 4 HR, 3 to Betts. Weird line.
Hale 2 2/3 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 0 W, 0 K.   2.89
Ottavino 1/3 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.  1.59
Britton 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 W, 1 K.  2.57

The Yanks really could use a well-pitched, crisp victory right now. They are taking it on the chin right now.

July 27. The trade deadline is just four days away.

Is any pitching help coming from the outside? Or do the Yanks have to keep their fingers crossed that internal options who have been on the IL (Severino, Betances, Montgomery, Loaisiga) will be coming to the rescue?

 

 

 

 

 

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