Bullpen springs a major leak
The most consistent positive for the Yankees in the early going has been the bullpen. Wednesday night, it leaked and cost the Yankees a chance to win their first series of the season.
The pen coughed up a one-run lead in the sixth inning as the Orioles put up a five-spot against three Yankees relievers to take control of the game and go on to a 7-5 victory, which dropped the Bombers’ record to 3-6.
Nathan Eovaldi had nine strikeouts in five innings, but he gave up eight hits and three walks, which along with the Ks shot his pitch count up to 101. The hard-throwing righthander needs to find a way to be more economical with his pitching.
The bullpen ranked third in the majors with a 1.73 ERA entering play and had limited opposing hitters to a .177 batting average. In addition, the pen was fairly well rested, but it did not take long for the tide to turn.
Jonathan Schoop led off the bottom of the sixth with a home run to center field off David Carpenter that tied the score. Alejandro De Aza followed with a single. Everth Cabrera sacrificed De Aza to second base. It seemed as if Orioles manager Buck Showalter was playing small-ball, but it would soon turn into a big-ball inning for Baltimore.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi ordered an intentional walk to Adam Jones, the Orioles’ hottest hitter (.406, 4 home runs, 11 RBI) from Carpenter and then brought in lefthander Justin Wilson to face left-hitting Travis Snider and Chris Davis. But Showalter countered with righty-swinging Delmon Young, who singled to left as a pinch hitter for Snider to score De Aza. The sac bunt proved crucial, as it turned out.
Davis, who struck out eight times in the series and could not catch up with Wilson’s fastball early in the at-bat, took a slider to the opposite field for a two-run double. Righthander Chris Martin tried to stem the tide but gave up a two-out, RBI single to Chad Joseph, who had three hits in the game and drove the Yanks crazy in the series going 7-for-11 (.636) with a triple and two RBI.
The Yankees came back Monday night against shaky Tommy Hunter and nearly did the same by scoring two runs off him in the eighth on doubles by Chris Young and Mark Teixeira and a wild pitch, but they would get no closer than that.
That Yankees bullpen ERA rose more than a run to 2.75 and the opponents’ batting average went up to .210. One good sign out of the bullpen came from Dellin Betances, who worked a scoreless, one-hit eighth inning with two strikeouts.