Some of the more naive and optimistic fans were hoping that, after a strong finish to the first half of the season, the mediocre Yankees could come out hot after the All Star Break and make the idea of buying a not-so-absurd idea. But if Friday’s 5-3 loss to the Red Sox is any indication, these are the same New York Yankees that went .500 in the first half.
This is also the same Michael Pineda who had a 5.38 ERA in his first 17 starts, and the same Yankees offense that scored the tenth fewest runs in baseball. It was a game perfectly emblematic of who 2016’s New York Yankees are, right down to the two RBI from Carlos Beltran and just three more hits from the supporting cast.
Sure, any offense can be thrown out of whack by a knuckleballer, especially All Star Steven Wright, but it wasn’t until the fifth inning that the Yankees managed a hit—a meek dribbler off the bat of Alex Rodriguez that found no-man’s land—and the only runs of the game came after Wright lost his command in the sixth. The three runs pushed across were from a Carlos Beltran single, which scored Starlin Castro and Chase Headley, and a Brian McCann ground out, which brought in Jacoby Ellsbury.
Other than that hiccup, Wright looked untouchable. He allowed only three hits over six innings of work while striking out four, walking one, and hitting a batter. All but one of the Yankees’ baserunners against Wright came in the sixth, and the offense was shut down by the Red Sox’ bullpen once Wright was taken out (with just 77 pitches).
Pineda had his usual unusual start, retiring the first eight batters of the game before giving up a solo shot to Ryan Hanigan (of all people!) and allowing another four runs on two more home runs later in the game. These would come off the bat of Travis Shaw—another solo home run—and Xander Bogaerts on a two-run dinger. Pineda’s slider looked excellent, so naturally the three home runs came off of fourseam fastballs in the strikezone.
Chasen Shreve rose from the dead (or, Triple-A) to also pitch in the loss, but the southpaw didn’t look much better than he did pre-injury, walking a pair and giving up a hit. He did record two outs and was saved by Nick Goody, who went an inning and walked a batter. Nathan Eovaldi, Tuesday’s supposed starter, threw 1 1/3 innings of relief, allowing two hits as well, while Aroldis Chapman worked a clean eighth and struck two.
Overall, it was a very Yankees-like loss. Some offense, but not enough, and some pitching, but not enough. Michael Pineda looked good until he didn’t, and the bats looked bad for the whole game—save for Beltran’s contributions. They’ll face Eduardo Rodriguez and his 8.59 ERA tomorrow, but the knuckleball hangover (yes, that is a real thing) could plague them.