If there had been one silver lining — though it’s hard to really call it that — in the Yankees’ recent offensive slump it had been this:
At least they were giving themselves plenty of opportunities.
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That screeched to halt Wednesday night when the Yankees gave themselves few chances in a desultory 5-2 loss to the A’s in front of a mostly bored Yankee Stadium crowd of 37,396 that created some of the night’s biggest noise in the seventh when it did the Wave.
“Bottom line is we’re not scoring runs,” an agitated Joe Girardi said afterward. “I don’t have any specific answers for you (why we’re not).”
The Yankees, who have lost six of seven in falling to 5-8, came into the game 2-for-42 with runners in scoring position. After going 0-for-3 in the first inning Wednesday, the Yankees, who had six hits, didn’t put another runner in scoring position until the seventh.
Didi Gregorius helped short-circuit that potential rally by running into a double play, the mistake earning him something rare: a public reprimand from Girardi, who has criticized his players in front of the media a small handful of times in his eight-plus seasons as manager.
“Bad base running,” Girardi said. “You have to understand what your run means. You can’t run into an out. It’s a bad read . . . that’s a blunder that we have to take care of.”
With the A’s (8-7) leading 3-1 in the seventh, Oakland starter Kendall Graveman walked Chase Headley with one out, causing A’s manager Bob Melvin to bring in lefthander Marc Rzepczynski to face Gregorius. The shortstop, who homered in the second for a 1-0 lead, lined a single to center, where Billy Burns bobbled it, the error giving the Yankees runners at second and third. Aaron Hicks, who started in left for Brett Gardner (stiff neck), hit a ground smash to third. For some reason Gregorius didn’t hesitate in taking off for third and Chris Coghlan tagged him before throwing to first to complete the double play (and drop Hicks to 1-for-20). The Yankees challenged that Coghlan didn’t tag Gregorius, but the call was not overturned and the Yankees were denied a run.
“It was a really bad read,” said Gregorius, who committed an error during Oakland’s three-run fourth, though it didn’t lead to any of the runs. “Stupid base running . . . hopefully we can get out of this funk that we’re in.”
Graveman, who hadn’t won since July 4 of last season, helped keep the Yankees in that funk, allowing one run and three hits over innings. He walked three and struck out eight.
Reliever Branden Pinder allowed two runs in the eighth to make it 5-1. Carlos Beltran’s fourth homer, a solo shot in the bottom of the eighth off Ryan Dull, made it 5-2.
“Right now we’re not scoring runs so everything looks bad,” Girardi said. “Everything is magnified when you don’t score runs. But you have to find a way to do it.”
Yankees starter Nathan Eovaldi (0-2, 6.11) turned in a familiar outing. The righthander was terrific in spots but had one bad inning in which hitters squared up his high-90’s fastball and offspeed stuff. Wednesday night it was the fourth when a 1-0 lead became a 3-1 deficit. Eovaldi allowed three runs and eight hits over six innings. He walked one and struck out seven.
The Yankees’ first inning served as a fine summation of their recent work at the plate. Jacoby Ellsbury, in a 1-for-15 slide, led off with a double to right-center. Starlin Castro then walked on four pitches, bringing Beltran to the plate. The rightfielder bounced into a force play, hustling down the line to avoid the double play, which put runners at the corners with one out. Mark Teixeira, however, struck out, en route to a 0-for-4 night that dropped him to three for his last 32. Brian McCann walked to load the bases but Alex Rodriguez struck out looking.
So how frustrated was the manager after that kind of night?
“I think,” Girardi said, “you can read my face.”