Are Yankees contenders or punching bags?
Before Tuesday night’s game against the Rockies, the opener of a nine-game homestand, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said his team has to play better for it to be considered a contender for a playoff berth. He may have to say the same thing Wednesday.
The only contender the Yankees looked like Tuesday night was Chuck Wepner, the professional bleeding machine, in an 8-4 loss to Colorado, which is now 3-0 against them this year.
In or out of Coors Field, the Rockies can hit. Often derided for their inflated statistics at home, the Rockies peppered 15 hits all over Yankee Stadium. In three games against the Yankees, the Rockies have 43 hits, 18 of them for extra bases, including seven home runs.
One night after hitting five solo home runs at Miami, Colorado led off this game with yet another solo shot, by Charlie Blackmon, on a drive that struck the foul pole next to the third deck. The Rox added two more runs that inning against Ivan Nova.
The final score might have been worse if not for some erratic fielding by the Rockies. Errors led to the Yankees’ first two run. In the fifth inning, Carlos Beltran got thrown out at second base trying to advance on a sacrifice fly by Alex Rodriguez. Beltran also misplayed a ball in right field that became a gift double to Carlos Gonzalez, who ultimately scored on a two-out double by Mark Reynolds.
“Mistakes really hurt us,” Girardi said.
A lot of folks in the Stadium crowd of 34,760 got all over third base coach Joe Espada for holding up Didi Gregorius at third base in the sixth inning when it appeared he had a shot at an inside-the-park home run. That might have been the case if Gregorius had run hard out of the box instead of jogging to first base and not turning on the jets until midway between first and second.
The Yankees had 10 hits but were 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Colorado batters struck out 13 times, but only once against Nova, whose career record in three starts against the Rockies is 0-2 with an 8.40 ERA.
“He didn’t make the pitches he had to,” Girardi said. “The top four guys in their lineup gave him a hard time.”
Blackmon, D.J. LeMahieu, Nolan Arenado and Gonzalez combined for 11 of Colorado’s hits with eight runs and six RBI. Blackmon homered again in the fourth. Arenado ended the solo-homer stretch by the Rockies with a two-run blast off Nick Goody in the sixth.
Nova’s season ERA rose to 5.18. That gives the Yankees three of their five starting pitchers with ERAs above 5.00. Nathan Eovaldi is at 5.02 and Michael Pineda is at 5.82. The staff ERA leader at 2.20 is CC Sabathia, who will get a chance to turn things around Wednesday.