The Yankees want Michael Pineda to be unhittable, not inscrutable. That's why they're probably going to be spending the next few days trying to figure out why the big righthander was pasted for 11 hits and eight runs in 31/3 innings by the putrid Phillies Monday night in an 11-8 loss at Yankee Stadium.
Pineda's effort was his second bad one in three outings and followed a poor performance by Masahiro Tanaka in a loss to the Tigers on Sunday. The Yankees need Pineda and Tanaka to be their 1-2 punch. Instead, on consecutive days, they got a punch to the gut.
Pineda (8-4) saw his ERA balloon from 3.54 to 4.25. On May 10, it was 2.72 after he struck out 16 in a win over Baltimore.
"It's been kind of up and down,'' Joe Girardi said. "And that's hard to figure out sometimes.''
Perhaps as alarming was that Pineda, who carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning in his last outing against Miami, showed none of that dominance. This time he didn't strike out a batter.
The outing before that, pitching on 11 days' rest after a skipped start, Pineda gave up six runs (five earned) in 41/3 innings against Baltimore.
So what is he doing wrong?
"If I knew, I would tell him not to do that,'' Girardi said. "I don't know. His slider wasn't very good, the location of his fastball was spotty. He struggled tonight.''
Said pitching coach Larry Rothschild: "His last time out, he was as good as he was probably at any time. I don't know that we can have the answer to that.''
The Phillies (25-47) came in with baseball's worst record. They received a 4-for-5, two- homer, five-RBI performance from rookie third baseman Maikel Franco as they pounded 18 hits.
Franco had a solo home run in the first inning, a single in the third, a two-run single in the fourth and a two-run home run off Chris Capuano in the sixth.
Trailing 1-0, the Yankees scored twice in the first on a sacrifice fly by Brian McCann and a two-out double by Carlos Beltran, who had three of the Yankees' 14 hits. But the Phillies scored three runs in the third and four in the fourth to knock out Pineda.
Ryan Howard had a two-run single in the third, and another run scored on a double play as Philadelphia took a 4-2 lead.
Capuano warmed up as early as the third inning, but Girardi tried to nurse Pineda through a troublesome fourth until he was forced to make a change.
The Phillies opened the inning with singles by Cameron Rupp, Cody Asche and Freddy Galvis to load the bases. Pineda got Ben Revere to ground into a forceout at the plate, giving the Yankees hope of an escape. But Cesar Hernandez doubled in two runs and Franco followed with a two-run single to make it 8-2. Pineda's night was done.
"I didn't have my best stuff,'' he said. "I tried to keep fighting and pitch more with my changeup . . . Today was not a good night for me.''
The Yankees closed to within 8-5 in the fourth when with two outs, Brett Gardner (4-for-4, two bunt singles, walk) smacked a three-run home run. Gardner is 11-for-18 with two homers and six RBIs in the last four games to raise his average to .290.
Franco, a rare Phillies bright spot, hit his second home run of the game and ninth of the season in the sixth to make it 10-5.
McCann hit his 11th homer in the seventh and Garrett Jones had a two-run double in the ninth.