One good outing Monday night didn’t cure Dellin Betances after all.
And now the Yankees, while not quite in crisis mode with their All-Star setup reliever, certainly are approaching it.
In a return to his bad old days as a failed starter at the start of his career, Betances lost complete command of the strike zone in the eighth inning Wednesday afternoon.
He walked four batters, including the go-ahead run, in a 7-6 loss to the Blue Jays in front of 38,691 irritated fans at the Stadium.
“Short term I’m concerned about him, long term I’m not,” said Joe Girardi, whose club did rally from an early 5-0 deficit to take a 6-5 lead. “Obviously he’s too good and his track record is too good for this to continue. But right now he’s off mechanically and we’re trying to get him right . . . we have to get him back on line.”
Girardi also expressed “concern” with starter Michael Pineda, who allowed five runs and nine hits, including three home runs, over three-plus innings, his ERA ticking up to 4.39 from 4.05. It was Pineda’s shortest outing of the season, surpassing, if that’s the word, the 3 2⁄3 innings he lasted April 5 at Tampa, his first start of 2017. He’s allowed 20 homers in 17 starts this season.
“His slider has not been good, it was not very good today again,” Girardi said.
But Betances, who took a loss for the third time in his last four outings, commanded the postgame spotlight. The righthander has allowed seven runs and 11 walks over his last five appearances, chalking up his difficulties to “mechanical” issues.
“I’d rather give up hits than walking guys the way I’ve been doing,” said Betances, who at one point threw 10 straight balls in the inning and, after he was yanked having walked in Miguel Montero, heard booing at a near-Tyler Clippard level as he departed. “I’m between two different deliveries and it’s not helping me when I’m out there . . . the team is fighting. Can’t put the blame on those guys, I’ll take the blame.”
Russell Martin, who tied it at 6 in the seventh with a homer off Chad Green, drew the walk that forced in the run that gave the last-place Blue Jays (39-45), losers of seven of their last 10 coming in, a 7-6 lead.
Betances’ teammates remain confident in the 6-8 reliever, who has made four straight All-Star Games.
“How dominant he’s been the last couple of years, I don’t think there’s any worry in this clubhouse,” said Adam Warren, who pitched 1 2⁄3 scoreless Wednesday. “He’ll find it.”
The Yankees (44-39), losers in 16 of their last 22 games, have lost 8 ½ games to the Red Sox in a 24-game span. Boston played at Texas Wednesday night.
Wednesday afternoon’s loss dropped the Yankees to 9-17 in one-run games this season, 2-9 in such games since June 13.
“Just as you lose them you can turn it around and get hot and win a lot of games like we were before, and that’s something that’s very important that we do,” Girardi said. “We are scuffling right now, but we’re still having opportunities to games. We have to find a way to win those.”
And they did have a chance late when Brett Gardner singled with two outs in the ninth off Roberto Osuna, giving Aaron Judge a chance. The rightfielder, who hit his MLB-leading 29th homer earlier in the game, a two-run shot in the fourth that brought the Yankees within 5-2, struck out on a 2-and-2 slider to end it, earning Osuna his 21st save.
“That’s the moment you want to be up, runner on, a chance to win the ballgame,” Judge said. “That’s what you dream of. I just wasn’t able to come up and get the job done.”