After a tough loss last night, the Yankees looked to even their series against the Houston Astros, a team they desperately needed to beat in order to keep pace in the playoff race. While they did have Michael Pineda bringing his best stuff tonight, the offense yet again couldn't get it going against Scott Feldman, and the bullpen once more let a good start go to waste.
Pineda couldn't be touched to start the game; he didn't allow a runner through the first three innings of play, and he looked just as good as he did to start the season. But while he settled into a grove, the Yankees offense continued to sputter. New York got two runners on in both the first and second innings, yet could not manage to sneak one across.
The Astros, however, didn't miss their first chance against Pineda. In the top of the fourth, Houston got its first baserunner when Robbie Grossman singled to right. Grossman moved to second on a Jose Altuve sacrifice bunt, and then scored when Dexter Fowler ripped a double to deep right. However, the Yankees responded in the bottom of the inning - after Chase Headley singled and got thrown out trying to steal second, Stephen Drew pulled the next pitch he saw over the right-center field fence to tie the game at one.
The Yankees then took the lead in the bottom of the fifth after Ichiro singled, stole second, moved to third on a Derek Jeter groundout, and finally scored on a perfectly placed bunt down the third base line by Jacoby Ellsbury. Third baseman Matt Dominguez, playing well behind the bag, had no shot at it, and Feldman couldn't get off the mound in time to get the speedy Ichiro.
Pineda lasted until the top of the seventh, when Joe Girardi pulled him after he walked the first batter he faced. Pineda had also run up against his pitch limited which was apparently around 90 (Pineda threw 89 pitches), but the end of Pineda's night marked the end of the Yankees' night as well. David Huff came in and struck Jonathan Singleton out, then gave up a single to Marwin Gonzalez. Girardi pulled him in favor of Esmil Rogers at this point, and that's where everything went to hell. Rogers came in and allowed four straight singles - by the time he finally got an out, the Astros were up 5-2, and what had once looked like a promising series, and game, had now just become a lesson in depression.
But of course, the Yankees had just enough chances towards the end of the game to make their eventual loss a little more painful. Ellsbury came up with two on in the bottom of the seventh and the bottom of the ninth with two men on, and both times, he failed to capitalize. In the seventh, he took a huge cut at a 2-2 breaking ball and whiffed completely. In the ninth, he drilled it to right, where it fell heartbreakingly short. And that was that.
Another night, another rough loss for the Yankees. Tomorrow afternoon, they'll try to salvage what was supposed to be an easy series for them when they send Brandon McCarthy to take on Dallas Keuchel.