Pineda impressive in 1st start since 2011

Saturday’s 4-0 loss to the Blue Jays falls into the crying shame category for the Yankees. They received a splendid effort from Michael Pineda in his first major-league start since 2011 and have nothing to show for it.

R.A. Dickey pitched a game out of his 2012 National League Cy Young Award season with the Mets and the Toronto bullpen withstood heavy challenges in the late innings as the Yankees sustained their first shutout of the season.

I need to come clean here that I was not in favor of the Yankees’ trade for Pineda from Seattle two years ago. I thought Jesus Montero showed a lot of promise, at least from the offensive side, as a future catcher and that Hector Noesi had been a useful pitcher out of the bullpen. Pineda made the American League All-Star team in 2011 as a rookie but had a major falloff in the second half of that season, and I was skeptical when he became available through a trade. When Pineda showed up in camp out of shape in 2012 and suffered a torn right labrum that required surgery the deal sure seemed like a bust.

That shows you what I know and also how you cannot analyze a trade right away. Look at the situation now. Montero is no longer in the Mariners’ plans and is an overweight designated hitter in Triple A. Noesi was designated for assignment this week.

Meanwhile, Pineda has emerged after two years of rehabilitation as a possible force in the Yankees’ rotation. He nailed down a starter’s role in training camp and got another stamp of approval Saturday despite taking the loss. The righthander’s fastball clocked consistently in the mid-90-mph range as he scattered five hits, did not walk a batter and struck out five in six innings.

Pineda left the game with the score 1-0 Toronto, the run coming on a flare single to left field by Jays catcher Josh Thole in the second inning. The Yankees thought they tied the score an inning later, but a disputed play at the plate went against them. Francisco Cervelli, running from second base with two out on a single to center field by Jacoby Ellsbury, was thrown out at the plate on a strong throw by Colby Rasmus.

Or was he? Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn’t think so and challenged the call by plate umpire Dana DeMuth. The replay unit in New York supported DeMuth’s call, but Girardi was not satisfied and said after the game that he still felt strongly that Thole had blocked the plate without the ball, which is against the new rules regarding plays at the plate designed to prevent collisions. Girardi is correct in his view that this area will be the toughest for the replay crew to monitor.

In the end, the play proved inconsequential because the Blue Jays broke the game open in the eighth inning against reliever David Phelps, who gave up a solo home run to Melky Cabrera, a double to Rasmus and a two-run blast by Jose Bautista. The Yankees were 1-for-11 (.091) with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners, including seven in the last four innings.

The Yankees have yet to hit a home run through five games, their longest drought at the start of a season since 1975 when they were shut out in homers the first six games.

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