Domingo German’s Tuesday evening was going well until his 0-and-2 curveball to Ender Inciarte in the top of the fifth inning.
It wasn’t necessarily a bad pitch — an 81-mph curveball a few inches below the strike zone — but Inciarte still was able to send it over the right-centerfield wall for a two-run home run.
Thus began German’s downward spiral.
Ozzie Albies homered on German’s next pitch (another curveball, but this one hung too high). Then Freddie Freeman and Nick Markakis reached on hard-hit singles before German was lifted for A.J. Cole.
Cole escaped the fifth inning by sandwiching strikeouts of Kurt Suzuki and Tyler Flowers around Ronald Acuña Jr.’s single, earning the win in the Yankees’ 8-5 victory over the Braves at the Stadium.
Although he hardly cruised through the first four innings, German had six strikeouts with his usual swing-and-miss stuff. But watching Inciarte hammer a pitcher’s pitch over the wall made him a little uneasy.
“Yeah, probably a little bit,” German said of how the home run might have impacted his confidence. “Having a batter there, in that count, leaving that pitch there and obviously he made good contact with it, gets you out of your rhythm.”
Manager Aaron Boone didn’t see much rhythm from German most of the night, saying he “didn’t command it great.” German pitched 4 1⁄3 innings, allowing six hits and three walks.
“It didn’t seem like he could really hang his hat on a pitch when he really needed to make a pitch or throw a strike or get back into the count,” Boone said. “So I just think the command was a little bit scattered for him, and that’s why he found himself in a little trouble eventually.”
German failed to complete five innings for the second start in a row, and his rotation spot could be in hot water by the time Masahiro Tanaka returns. That could be Monday in Baltimore if all goes well during Tanaka’s rehab start with Triple-A Scranton / Wilkes-Barre on Wednesday.
With a day off Thursday, German could start Sunday in Toronto in a last-ditch effort to keep his spot. Boone has yet to reveal his plan, but either way, German doesn’t think about it while pitching.
“I don’t let things like that affect my performance out there,” he said. “That I really have no control of, so to me, it’s just me going out there and doing my job.”