Ivan Nova did a decent job filling in for Masahiro Tanaka, who was supposed to start this game but who has a strained hamstring, but the Yankees’ bullpen and offense didn’t do much as the Yanks were blanked by Toronto, 4-0, on Wednesday night.
The loss drops the Yanks 3 1/2 behind Toronto in the AL East with 11 games to go. The Yanks, at 83-68, maintain a four game lead over Houston for WC #1, and a five game lead over the Twins for WC #2. The magic # to make it into the play-in Wild Card game remains at 7.
One problem with the Yanks this year has been that their starters don’t go deep into games. The Yanks for years have waited out other teams’ pitchers and feasted on the middle relievers. That is just what Toronto did to the Yanks last night.
Nova tossed five shutout innings but had to be pulled in the sixth when his pitch count reached 110. Toronto got a run in the sixth, but then a 3-run HR by ex-Yankee Russell Martin in the seventh was the crushing blow. Meanwhile the offense put up nothing.
As for the relievers who gave up the run, it says a lot. In what may be the biggest game of the year, it was James Pazos, Caleb Cotham and Andrew Bailey who came in after Nova. No offense to the three of them, but none of them went north with the club in April. It was Pazos’ ninth MLB game. It was Cotham’s ninth MLB game as well. For Bailey, it was his only his sixth game since 2013.
Bailey was one strike away from getting out of the inning when he gave up Martin’s HR. The pitch before? Just missed. Ouch.
So three things have hurt them. 1) Starters not going deep enough into games. 2) The fact that with Eovaldi’s injury, Warren has had to go back into the rotation. That would have been a perfect spot for him. 3) No one has stepped up to fill those innings between when a pitcher leaves and the foursome of Shreve, Wilson, Betances and Miller can arrive. Capuano can’t be trusted there, and Girardi couldn’t use Shreve, Wilson, Betances or Miller that early in the game. Also, Shreve, Wilson, Betances and Miller are showing some signs of wearing down, and that goes back to the starters not giving enough length.
And all indications are that Hal will NOT be going after (and breaking the bank for) David Price this offseason.
Those extra three outs a starter can give you are huge. The Yanks need to get those.
Nova (L, 6-9, 4.87) 5 2/3 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 2 walks and 6 K.
Pazos 0 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 0 walks and 0 K. 0.00
Cotham 1/3 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 walk and 0 K. 5.40
Bailey 1 IP, 3 R, 2 H, 1 walk, 2 K. 7.50
Mitchell 1 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 walks and 1 K. 5.81.