Yankees’ pitching falters in loss to Nationals | Rapid reactionJune 14, 2018
NEW YORK — Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner told reporters the team needs to add pitching Wednesday afternoon.
It showed why later in the night.
The bad version of Sonny Gray showed up and a bullpen letdown aided the Yankees’ 5-4 loss to the Nationals at Yankee Stadium before 45,030 fans.
Gray gave up four runs in in five innings on two walks and seven hits, including a three-run shot in the fourth inning to 19-year-old Juan Soto, that trashed the Yankees’ 3-1 lead and made it 4-3 Nationals.
Soto also homered to give the Nationals back a one-run advantage in the seventh. The left fielder Soto, at 19 years and 231 days old, became the youngest player to home in either Yankee Stadium in the regular season since Ken Griffey Jr. on May 30, 1989.
Soto’s second blast came off reliever Chasen Shreve and broke a 4-all tie.
Gleyber Torres had notched the tie with his 12th home run of the year, a solo shot to left field.
What it means
The defeat was the Yankees’ second in three games. They have won seven of their last 10 games.
The Red Sox retook the first place in the American League East, beating the Orioles earlier in the day, for the first time since April 6.
An early lead
The Yankees had spotted Gray a 3-1 lead come the third inning. And it seemed he might keep it. Despite working a high pitch count, Gray had been coming off two strong starts — a eight-inning, scoreless outing in Toronto the latest. Two starts prior, Gray had giving up just a run in six innings.
Brett Gardner singled to lead off the first for the Yankees. He stole second and catcher Spencer Kieboom’s throw bounced past second baseman Wilmer Difo, sending Gardner to third. He scored easily on Aaron Judge’s subsequent sacrifice fly to center field that missed going over the fence by just a few feet. That tied the game at 1-all after Adam Easton score on Anthony Rendon’s first-inning sac fly.
Greg Bird, dropped to seventh in the lineup and struggling, clubbed a solo shot in the second to put the Yankees up, 2-1. In the third, Aaron Judge expanded that lead, scoring on Giancarlo Stanton’s 108-mph grounder that got past third baseman Anthony Rendon. Judge had doubled and scored when Stanton’s grounder trickled into shallow left.
Gray not good — again
Things unraveled for Gray in the fourth. After two quick outs, he walked Daniel Murphy and let Matt Adams club a double. That set things up for Soto’s first bomb. Soto crushed a 1-0, 95-mph fastball that Gray hung middle-in.
He finished the night with two walks but just one strikeout, his third time this season striking out two batters or less. He stayed at 4-5 but his ERA jumped to 4.98, the worst in the Yankees’ rotation.
It bolstered Steinbrenner’s claim, which he made at the Major League Baseball owners meetings in Manhattan. Steinbrenner told reporters the team has the money to acquire a starting pitcher but that its not particularly looking to part with any of its rich prospect base.
Nationals starting pitcher Erick Fedde, called up Wednesday, also went five innings and gave up four runs.
The Yankees had a chances in the seventh and eighth innings. Greg Bird led off the seventh with a double but three straight outs kept him from scoring. In the eighth, they put runners on first and second base only to watch Aaron Hicks strike out and Miguel Andujar complete his 0-for-4 day with a fly out to left.
They were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position.
Thursday: Yankees righty Domingo German (0-4, 5.32 ERA) vs. Rays lefty Blake Snell (8-3, 2.30 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium.
Friday: Yankees righty Jonathan Loaisiga (MLB debut) vs. Rays righty Nathan Eovaldi (1-1, 3.94 ERA) at 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium.