After an offensive outburst on Friday night, the Yankees went silent during a Saturday afternoon matinee in the Bronx. Corey Kluber dominated the Yankee bats, and CC Sabathia couldn't make it through six innings in a 5-2 loss. Rookie backstop Gary Sanchez's quality play provided a lone bright spot for New York.
Sanchez continued to acquit himself well by opening the scoring with an RBI double in the second. He eventually came around to make the lead 2-0 after an Aaron Hicks single and a wild pitch It was Sanchez's second straight start behind the plate, something the Yankees might be getting used to.
In his very brief time since getting called up, Sanchez is batting .350/.375/.500. He also yet again showed off his strong arm, gunning down Brandon Guyer in the fifth:
That's the third time Sanchez has caught a runner stealing in just two games.
Sabathia was sharp at the start. He didn't allow a hit through the first three innings, striking out three in the process. Jason Kipnis got Cleveland's first hit leading off the fourth, however, striking a solo shot to cut the lead to 2-1. The Indians threatened for more after a pair of singles, but Sabathia induced a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning. Three double plays helped Sabathia limit the damage throughout the day.
Cleveland was able to tie it in the fifth. Abraham Almonte walked, took second on a groundout, and scored on a Rajai Davis soft groundball single to left. The sight of such a seeing-eye base hit squirming its way through the infield has become an unfortunately familiar sight for Sabathia.
Home runs have also become a frequent occurrence as of late for Sabathia, and that continued when Mike Napoli gave Cleveland a 3-2 lead in the sixth with a solo home run. After allowing a home run on just 4.2% of fly balls over his first 12 starts, Sabathia has allowed a home run on 17.5% of fly balls over his past nine starts.
Overall, Sabathia was solid, but his start followed a typical script. He looked strong his first time through the order before succumbing as the game wore on. He lasted 5.2 innings, allowing three runs on six hits, four walks, and five strikeouts.
Cleveland kept building their picket fence in the seventh when Davis stroked a solo homer of his own, giving Cleveland one run in four consecutive innings. As Cleveland was doing just enough against the Yankees' pitchers, New York couldn't get anything going against Kluber. After running into trouble in the second, Kluber faced the minimum of 18 batters from the third through eighth inning. He gave up just two runs across eight innings, striking out eight and walking one.
The Yankees' middle relief was an issue again, as Joe Girardi couldn't find a way to get through the game without turning to Dellin Betances. Anthony Swarzak, Chasen Shreve, and Nick Goody all entered and departed without impressing. After Goody yielded an RBI single to Kipnis to make it 5-2 in the ninth, Girardi brought in his remaining relief ace to record just a pair of outs.
Kluber gave way to none other than Andrew Miller in the bottom of the ninth. The trade that sent four prospects from Cleveland to New York in exchange for Miller was a smart and prescient one. That will do nothing to dull the immediate pain of seeing the recently traded closer come back and earn a save against New York not even a week since departing. Miller dispatched the Yankees with ease, closing out his first save as a member of his new team.
The Yankees dropped back to .500 at 55-55. Average baseball has come to be expected from the Yankees, and they are hitting expectations right on the nose. They will go back to work tomorrow in the series finale against Cleveland. Masahiro Tanaka will be on the mound opposite of Carlos Carrasco as New York tries to take the series.