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Luis Severino, Yankees can’t hold on to lead

Luis Severino of the New York Yankees hands

Luis Severino of the New York Yankees hands the ball to manager Joe Girardi as he is removed from a game in the seventh inning against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim at Yankee Stadium on Thursday, June 22, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Luis Severino’s outing Thursday night mirrored the Yankees’ recent struggles: good at times, not good at others.

Handed a four-run lead after two innings, Severino allowed two runs in the third and one in the sixth before the Yankees’ defense let him down in the top of the seventh. The Angels plated four in the inning en route to a 10-5 victory.

With 92 pitches after six innings, Severino trotted back out to the mound in the seventh looking to protect a 5-4 lead.

No. 9 hitter Cliff Pennington, who went 3-for-3 with three runs scored, singled to open the inning. Cameron Maybin then hit a hard grounder to second that appeared to take a bad hop to the right of Starlin Castro. Ruled an error, it allowed Pennington to advance to third on what could have been a double play.

“It’s just part of the game,” Severino said of the miscue, emphasizing that it was he who couldn’t hold the 5-1 lead given to him by Aaron Judge’s three-run home run to centerfield in the bottom of the second.

Chasen Shreve then came in to face Kole Calhoun, who hit a sacrifice fly to center. After Maybin stole second and advanced to third when Gary Sanchez’s throw sailed into the outfield, Albert Pujols singled off Dellin Betances to drive in the go-ahead run.

“I was going to have him go through the leadoff hitter and then go to Shreve,” manager Joe Girardi said of his decision to stick with Severino, who was charged with six runs (five earned) in six innings-plus and allowed eight hits and two walks. “You know, and he gets a double-play ball. It takes a bad hop and it changes the complexion of the game, maybe.”

The righthander had been riding a career-best eight-game unbeaten streak, but poor fastball command and an inability to finish his sliders down in the zone kept him from limiting damage.

Severino’s inconsistencies relate to the Yankees’ problems with putting forth complete ballgames. They have lost eight of nine games, with four losses coming by a run.

Perhaps even more worrisome is that Severino is the last Yankees starter to complete seven innings, which he did in a 16-3 win over the Orioles on June 10 — 12 games ago.

“We need to get more length out of our starters, we need more consistency out of our bullpen,” Girardi said. “I think those two things probably go hand-in-hand. As you get more consistency and length out of your starters, your bullpen becomes more consistent because it’s not so overworked.”

The Yankees fell into a virtual tie with the Red Sox for the AL East lead. “We’ve been playing good baseball,” Severino said. “Right now we’re passing through a tough time.”

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