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Michael Pineda's slider a good sign for Yankees in his return

Michael Pineda of the New York Yankees pitches

Michael Pineda of the New York Yankees pitches in the first inning against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium on Wednesday, Aug. 26, 2015. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

The one reassurance that no doubt helped the Yankees sleep after their worst loss of the season was the impending return of Michael Pineda.

On Tuesday night, the Yankees' pitching staff surrendered a season-high tying 15 runs to the Astros. The next afternoon in the Yankees' 6-2 loss, Pineda took the hill for the first time in over a month after being placed on the 15-day disabled list with a right forearm strain.

Maybe he'd be the Pineda he was through the first half of the season, when his numbers -- he posted a 9-5 record with a 3.64 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 111 strikeouts and 13 walks -- played a significant role in the Yankees taking early control in the American League East.

Aside from allowing a solo home run by Evan Gattis to lead off the second inning, Pineda showed flashes of his first-half self. Through the first four innings, he allowed just the homer and two singles, and struck out three without surrendering a walk.

"First couple of innings, I threw the ball pretty good," Pineda said. "Everything was working good."

But in a flash, it all unraveled in the fifth.

Carlos Gomez singled and went to third on Luis Valbuena's base hit to center. Jake Marisnick's bunt toward first scored Gomez, and Marisnick was safe after confusion on the play. Pineda walked Castro to load the bases. Jose Altuve's sacrifice fly scored Valbuena and Pineda was removed.

Lefthanded reliever Chasen Shreve entered and allowed both inherited runners to score, closing the book on Pineda.

In his 4 1/3 innings, Pineda (9-8) threw 71 pitches (44 strikes) and gave up five earned runs, six hits and a walk while striking out three. His ERA jumped .22 points to 4.19.

Before the game, Yankees manager Joe Girardi said Pineda's pitch limit was around 85.

Girardi spoke earlier in the week about the importance of Pineda's slider. It's sharpness, he said, would be a strong indicator of where Pineda is at with his command.

"I thought it was pretty good," Girardi said. "I thought he had some swings and misses with it. I thought it was pretty good. So I thought that was a good sign."

Two days before Pineda's return, the Yankees placed CC Sabathia on the 15-day disabled list with knee inflammation. But Pineda said that hasn't added any pressure. After all, this is the Yankees. There's always a certain level of pressure to win.

"It's normal," he said. "Everybody have responsibility here. We're here for playing and winning the game.

"The good thing is I'm feeling good and I'll be back for pitching in five days... Keep my head up and just continue to work. Be ready for my next start."


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