The road trip didn’t open according to plans. They Yankees dropped the first game to the Pirates by a score of 6 - 3. The loss stings right now, especially coming off of such a winning home-stand. That said, this game was bad and boring. It will ultimately be forgotten in the long undulating season. Nevertheless, we recap.
CC Sabathia struggled mightily on Friday night. That became evident immediately in the first inning. Leadoff hitter Jordy Mercer launched a home run deep to center field on the very second pitch of the game. Sabathia left a sluggish fastball over the plate and belt-high. It was a mistake pitch and Mercer made him pay.
It didn’t get any easier from there. Sabathia quickly found himself with runners on first and third with no outs, thanks to a pair of singles by Josh Harrison and Andrew McCutchen. Gregory Polanco struck out, but an infield single by David Freese plated Harrison and extended the Pirates lead to 2 - 0. Old friend Francisco Cervelli grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The second inning didn’t fare much better. Jose Osuna got things started with a loud triple off of the right field wall. I thought Sabathia was lucky that didn’t go out. The relief was only temporary, however, as Josh Bell crushed a high fastball for a two-run shot to left field. That made it 4 - 0.
Sabathia was lifted for a pinch hitter in the top of the sixth inning. All told, he allowed four runs on seven hits across five innings. This was his worst start of the season. He didn’t have life on his fastball, both home runs came on pitches that hovered around 87 mph. That’s not ideal, but he’s been the team’s best pitcher in the early going. He’s earned a mulligan.
Adam Warren took over in the bottom of the sixth. He retired the first four batters he faced. With one out in the seventh, he issued a walk to Mercer that ultimately proved costly. After striking out Harrison looking, he got McCutchen to pop up into shallow right field. A back-pedaling Castro called for the ball, and he made it in time, but dropped it. Mercer scored on the E4, as the Pirates took a 5 - 3 lead.
Joe Girardi then began to play matchups, summoning Tommy Layne to face the left-hander Polanco. Naturally, Layne issued a walk and was replaced by Jonathan Holder. The young right-hander surrendered an RBI single to Freese, making it a 6 - 3 game. The Yankees luckily escaped the inning without further damage. It was a sloppy one that nearly spiraled out-of-control.
The Yankees picked up their only runs of the game against Pirates starter Tyler Glasnow. In the third inning, Brett Gardner worked a lead off walk before scoring on a Chase Headley double. Osuna, the Pirates’ right fielder, bobbled the ball, allowing Gardner to score. Headley didn’t receive credit for an RBI, but the run still counted.
The no-RBI party continued in the the top of the fifth. Jacoby Ellsbury and Aaron Judge picked up a pair of two-out singles to get the rally together. Greg Bird narrowly missed a game-tying home run; it just went foul. Instead, he hit a groundball that Harrison bobbled. The error allowed Ellsbury and Judge to score, making it a 4 - 3 game. For what it’s worth, I would want no part of being on the receiving end of a Judge slide.
The Pirates bullpen combined for four and a third scoreless innings to close out the game. The Yankees threatened a rally in the top of the eighth against Daniel Hudson, but pinch-hitter Matt Holliday struck out to end the inning. Closer Tony Watson also ran into two-out trouble. The tying run came to to the plate in the form of Judge, but he grounded out to end the game.
These two teams square off again tomorrow afternoon. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05 PM. Michael Pineda draws Jameson Taillon, and you can catch them on WPIX or MLB.tv.