Yanks off to grim start in homestand

It was not the way the Yankees wanted to open the homestand. Starting pitcher Shane Greene, who has pitched well overall for the Yankees, did not have it Tuesday night and left the game in the third inning trailing the Red Sox, 6-0. That put the Yankees in uphill-climb mode the rest of the game and they finished on the south side of a 9-4 score.

And matters got no better after the game when manager Joe Girardi revealed that Martin Prado has an aching left hamstring and will be examined Wednesday by team physician Dr. Chris Ahmad. Prado had two more hits and is batting .292 since coming to the Yankees.

Yet he was also part of the questionable base running that cost the Yankees dearly in the fifth inning when they were putting together a sustained offense. Carlos Beltran got a bad read on a fly ball, and Prado, one of the most alert players in the majors, made a rare rock that put a cramp in the Yankees’ rally.

After Beltran led off the inning with a single, Brian McCann bunted against the shift and dunked a roller to third base for a single. Up came Prado, who had homered off Boston’s Joe Kelly in the third, and hit another rocket to left field that perplexed Yoenis Cespedes as well as Beltran apparently.

Beltran looked as if he thought Cespedes would catch Prado’s drive which went behind the left fielder. Beltran then pranced to third base and stayed there. Meanwhile, Prado, seeing the ball get over Cespedes dashed around first base thinking double all the way and did not notice until it was too late that McCann was at second base because he could not have advanced with Beltran at third. Prado ended up getting tagged out in a rundown. A bit hit became a big out due to hesitant base running.

“It looked like we were getting to [Kelly], and we gave them an out,” Girardi said.

The Yankees clearly had Kelly on the ropes. He walked the next two hitters to force in a run and got lucky when shortstop Xander Bogaerts was standing in the right spot to glove a smoking liner by Jacoby Ellsbury. Upon video review, an inning-ending grounder by Derek Jeter was reversed to an RBI single, but Brett Gardner was called out on strikes.

There can be no reviews of ball/strike calls. If so, Gardner might not have been punched out. He was so sure plate umpire Tim Timmons’ strike-three call was wrong that he slammed his helmet and bat in disgust, which only served to get Gardner ejected.

“I have more self control than that, but I was frustrated,” Gardner said. “I was frustrated by some of the calls in my first two at-bats when I struck out. I felt like it was way outside. He threw me out of the game before I even spoke to him.”

I do not care how justified Brett may be in protesting a borderline call, there is no way a player can get himself thrown out of such a game. For a team like the Yankees hanging by a thread in trying to qualify for a post-season berth, a player, especially one batting third in the order, getting tossed because he lost his temper is inexcusable.

The result was that Gardner was out of the game and Stephen Drew was in. Anybody like that exchange?

The game also featured a statistical rarity. The Yankees did not have a fielding assist. Boston made only one out on the ground, and it was an unassisted play at first base by Mark Teixeira. The Red Sox struck out 12 times and made the other 14 outs in the air.

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