Domingo German now has had two cracks at becoming Major League Baseball’s first 10-game winner this season, and each time he has delivered a step-back performance.
German wasn’t exactly clobbered the way he had been in Kansas City in his previous start, but he was pulled Saturday night in the fourth inning of the Yankees’ 5-3 win over the Red Sox at the Stadium.
German, who opened the season 9-1 with a 2.60 ERA as a rotation fill-in for injured ace Luis Severino, needed 87 pitches to record 11 outs before departing with the score tied at 3.
“I just think they wore him down and think they made it difficult on him,” manager Aaron Boone said. “They’re really good hitters and they make you work and use all your pitches.
“I definitely felt like there in that fourth inning, the pitch count was getting up there just from all the work he had to do throughout the game. Nothing was easy.”
With 10 earned runs allowed in his past two starts, including four homers and seven runs in five innings against the Royals in another no-decision last Sunday, German’s ERA has ballooned to 3.66.
“If you compare this outing and the last outing, he was much better,” catcher Gary Sanchez, who belted a tiebreaking home run in the fifth, said through his translator. “He was attacking hitters, and to me he looked good . . . They just made it tough on him tonight.”
German struck out Andrew Benintendi and Rafael Devers on curveballs in the first inning and fanned three more despite surrendering a run on three singles in the second.
After the Yankees gave him a 3-1 lead with five singles in the bottom half, German whiffed Benintendi and Devers again in the third for seven strikeouts (of his eight overall) through three innings.
But Xander Bogaerts tagged a hanging changeup for a solo homer in the fourth and Brock Holt followed Bogaerts’ blast with a single before scoring on Sandy Leon’s single. Chad Green replaced German a batter later and got the final out of the frame.
“Tough inning there. They made me throw a lot of pitches and made it difficult on me that inning, made my outing tonight short,” German said through his translator. “But I felt really good out there physically and mentally. I felt that I moved forward, especially from the last outing in Kansas City.”
Still, German’s recent shakiness only underscores the likelihood that the first-place Yankees will seek to upgrade their starting rotation ahead of the July 31 trade deadline. Free agent Dallas Keuchel remains unsigned and Madison Bumgarner — a proven postseason performer — likely will be available.
Severino, a 19-game winner in 2018, hasn’t made a start this season because of rotator cuff inflammation in his right shoulder and a lat injury, and lefties James Paxton and CC Sabathia also have spent time on the injured list with knee issues. Paxton returned from the injured list with four shutout innings Wednesday and Sabathia is slated to be activated to start the series finale against Boston on Sunday night.