Momentum did not carry over for the New York Yankees after the all-star break, this after winning three of four from the first place Cleveland Indians before the hiatus Sunday. Friday night at Yankee Stadium that momentum was never evident against the Boston Red Sox.
This was the first of 73 more games to go for the Yankees. After their 5-3 loss, there was nothing different. The starting pitching, Michael Pineda this time, and a knuckle ball pitcher for Boston, Steven Wright did not help matters for the Yankees who once again went a game below .500 at 44-45.
Wright, the righthander has got the Yankees number. Back in May, he earned a complete game victory in the Bronx, walked one and struck out seven. Friday night, Wright earned his 11th win and retired the first 14 Yankees, now 4-1 with a 1.91 ERA in five appearances against New York.
One of the wins came in a relief role. But this was another start for the Red Sox who have a quality starter in Wright 11-5, a pitcher that has helped his team keep pace with first place Baltimore in the Al East.
There is no specific answer as to why, or to how Wright continues to dominate the Yankees. The exception, of course is that opposing pitching has been able to keep the Yankees from generating much offense this season. And when the Yankees try to generate a run or two, that momentum, as has been the pattern of their season, quickly disappears.
“Felt we had a shot,” manager Joe Girardi said about his team. “Been coming from behind lately.” But, after Wright was removed after six innings, and when the Yankees tried to get to the Boston bullpen, they could not carry that momentum over that they had prior to the break.
“You hope for it,” Carlos Beltran said about a failed comeback and a win that never came to give the Yankees more momentum “It’s one game. Tomorrow we have an opportunity to tie the series. Right now we have to focus on winning series”
But they could not carry the momentum after scoring three runs in the sixth inning, and it came against Wright who finally had problems locating the knuckleball.
Wins over the Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles on this 10-game homestand are important because the Yankees season could be determined.. That means making up 8/1-2 games on the first place Orioles and overcoming a six game deficit as one of the wild card teams for a playoff spot.
Then there is Pineda, who is not showing he can be an ace after two previous outings that showed he could. Again behind the count, Pineda gave up home run balls to Ryan Hanigan in the third inning and a two-run jack to Travis Shaw in the fifth that gave Boston 3-0 lead.
And then the comeback got more difficult when Pineda, on a 2-2 pitch, gave up his third homerun of the game when Xander Bogaerts sent one down the left field line that scored two and the Red Sox were up 5-0. That’s 18 home run balls in 18 starts for Pineda, and not resembling anything that can keep momentum going for the Yankees.
Beltran offered this advice to Pineda: “Continue to fight continue to work hard and hopefully it will change for him.” But the manager has no alternative and has to keep Pineda in the rotation who has the highest ERA among American League starters.
Then there is the 3-4-5-6 part of the batting order, one that Girardi hopes will produce some runs for an inconsistent pitching staff. Combined, Beltran, the Yankees run producer, Brian McCann, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez had two of the four Yankees hits.
That production will not get wins the Yankees need. And it is beginning to get late in the game now that the second half has arrived and the manager knows it is getting at that juncture to be concerned and get this season on track.
“We talk about it all the time,” Girardi said. “We talk about it in here, we talk about it with the group in the clubhouse. Of course there is urgency. You’re starting to run out of days.”
And those days are crucial the next week for these New York Yankees who can’t seem to gain any momentum to a season that is rapidly becoming a losing reality.