Yankees disappointing capacity crowds

The paid crowd of 48,329 Saturday at Yankee Stadium was the largest of the season. The night before there was another sellout audience of 47,439. It is definitely a sign of summer and that the Red Sox are in town.

It is also the time when you want your ball club to be at its best, to convince those in the stands to come back again. That is part of the frustration the Yankees as an organization feels about losing to Boston in the first two games of what is most definitely a crucial homestand for them.

Fans go home with as sour a taste in their mouths as the players in the clubhouse after another game of disappointment. And the situation continues to challenge the Yankees, who conclude the series against the Red Sox Sunday night behind Masahiro Tanaka in a marquee pairing against Boston’s David Price.

CC Sabathia tried to turn the tide in the Yankees’ favor Saturday while his teammates hoped to tee off on Eduardo Rodriguez, the lefthander who has struggled mightily this season but who always seems to save his best for the Bombers.

Rodriguez had been optioned to Triple A Pawtucket after giving up nine earned runs and 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings to the Rays June 27 in a 13-7 loss that skyrocketed his ERA to 8.59. After pitching to a 3.08 ERA at Triple A, Rodriguez was recalled Friday to make this start, and make the best of it he did.

A solo home run by Brett Gardner in the third inning was the only run Rodriguez allowed in seven innings. It ended a 180-at-bat homerless stretch for Gardner, who had last gone deep May 18. Gardy proved the only real nemesis for Rodriguez, who also gave up a single and walked the leadoff hitter.

It was a close game for the first five innings. Sabathia gave up an unearned run in the third on a rally started by a throwing error by shortstop Didi Gregorius. A couple of infield hits fueled another small rally in the fourth when the Red Sox went ahead on a two-out single by catcher Sandy Leon.

Boston broke it open in the fourth. Manager Joe Girardi again pointed to soft hits off Sabathia enabling the Red Sox, but there was nothing soft about the three-run shot Leon drove into the left-field bleachers.

It was the fifth straight winless start for Sabathia, whose ERA has grown over that period from 2.20 to 3.94. The big lefthander has allowed 39 hits, including five home runs, with 10 walks and 19 strikeouts over 28 1/3 innings in those starts. His record over that span is 0-3 with a 7.94 ERA.

Conversely, Rodriguez improved his record in five career starts against the Yankees to 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA in 31 1/3 innings. The Yankees have definitely been vulnerable to left-handed pitching. They are 11-16 in games started by lefties.

No sooner had Rodriguez left the game than Chase Headley launched a home run to right-center off Matt Barnes. No other hits followed that as the Yankees went down meekly against Barnes and closer Koji Uehara (sixth save).

Other than the solo jacks by Gardner and Headley, the only other highlight for the Yankees was scoreless relief work by Anthony Swarzak (2 2/3 innings) and Richard Bleier (one inning). Yankees relievers have shut out opponents over their past 16 innings since June 9 at Cleveland.

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