It doesn’t take an expert in body language to read Michael Pineda when things are going wrong on the mound. He looked disgusted out there in front of the 31,034 watching at Yankee Stadium and the TV crowd after serving up a two-run homer to cap a three-run Angels rally in the fifth Tuesday night.
Good Mike had been cruising along with four innings of one-hit, two-walk work. The Yankees had handed him a five-run lead. But now Bad Mike had suddenly shown up.
Pineda has been good and bad this season. And he has been good and bad in the same game, ringing up the Ks in between getting pummeled. The talent is there; the consistency not so much.
Fortunately for him, Good Mike showed up again in the sixth, and he closed strong.
So this one went as a quality start, his second straight good outing and third in the last four. The Yankees claimed a 6-3 win after Pineda allowed the three runs, a season-low four hits and the two walks in a season-high seven innings, his longest start since last Independence Day.
So his record rose to 3-6 and his ERA fell to 6.14.
“When Michael’s on, he can be really dominant,” Joe Girardi said. “I’m hoping this can continue the roll for him.”
The enigmatic 27-year-old righthander has allowed three earned runs or less in seven starts and at least five earned in five starts. But he recently made a mechanical tweak.
“I changed the angle of my arm because the slider cuts better when I have a lower angle of my arm,” Pineda said.
It has worked out these last two starts.
“If Pineda finds his rhythm, he’s going to be able to help us a lot,” Carlos Beltran said.
There was just that one bad inning. With two outs, a run in and a runner on in the fifth, Kole Calhoun sent a hanging change-up over the rightfield fence, and the advantage was down to 5-3.
“When you make a mistake and let a homer like that, you feel a little frustrated,” Pineda said. “But the only thing we need to be ready for is the next pitch and make adjustments and hit the corner and make a good pitch.”
Pineda bounced back to retire his final seven batters, leaving Girardi to say, “That’s encouraging because that’s something that hasn’t happened this year.”