Corey Kluber threw four shutout innings on Wednesday night before tiring and getting charged with two runs in the fifth.
All in all, not a bad rebound outing after a pair of subpar starts for Kluber. But the way the Yankees are hitting, Kluber could have pitched great all night and it might not have mattered a bit.
One night after snapping a five-game losing streak, the Yankees lost to Atlanta, 4-1, at chilly Yankee Stadium and looked bad doing it.
The Yankees are 6-11 and it’s no mystery why. They can’t hit. They had five singles and six walks.
The highlight for the Yankees was Clint Frazier’s bloop RBI single to right with two outs in the ninth. It was Frazier’s first RBI in 70 at-bats this season. It was the first run the Yankees have scored in the ninth inning in 2021.
"Every great team goes through a stretch like this throughout the season," Aaron Judge said. "We’d kind of be talking about the same thing if it happened in June . . . It’s just you never want to start off that way. Just got to get back on track."
The Yankees won on Tuesday only because of an eighth-inning "rally" that included a go-ahead wild pitch and a bases-loaded walk.
Aaron Boone hoped that victory -- however it happened – would spark a Yankees offensive renaissance. Instead, Wednesday’s game was a new low point.
"We’ve just got to, as a group, continue to lean on each other, trust in each other and trust in just taking it one at-bat, one pitch at a time," Boone said. "We’ve got to play that way right now."
After benching two of his starting outfielders on Tuesday, Boone reinserted Frazier and Aaron Hicks into the lineup. Hicks hit seventh instead of his usual third. Gio Urshela, who had a homer and double on Tuesday, was a surprise cleanup hitter.
Urshela went 1-for-3 before leaving in the eighth with lower back tightness. Boone said he didn’t think it was anything serious.
The Yankees heard boos from the small, frozen crowd of 9,634. Giancarlo Stanton, who went 0-for-4 and has three hits in his last 34 at-bats, was a particular target.
Gary Sanchez went 0-for-3 with a walk and three strikeouts. DJ LeMahieu went 0-for-5, grounded out in the Yankees’ biggest at-bat of the game and made an error that led to an unearned run.
The game was scoreless until Atlanta scored twice in the fifth. Atlanta added a run in the seventh on a pop fly that fell in between a backpedaling Mike Ford and an onrushing Judge, an error by LeMahieu, a sacrifice bunt, an intentional walk and a run-scoring grounder by Marcell Ozuna.
The Yankees were stymied by Atlanta starter Ian Anderson, who threw 6 2/3 innings. The Yankees had their best chance in the seventh, when a single and a pair of two-out walks ended Anderson’s night and brought up LeMahieu with the bases loaded against lefthanded reliever A.J. Minter.
LeMahieu, the Yankees’ best clutch hitter the previous two seasons, grounded out to third.
"We had opportunities and we’re just not producing," Judge said. "As a whole."
Kluber’s good start was left with a bad taste as he walked three in the fifth and couldn’t get out of the inning.
In 4 2/3 innings, Kluber gave up two hits with four walks and two strikeouts. He left trailing 1-0, but he also left the bases loaded for Nick Nelson, who walked in a second run on four pitches.
Still, it was a step in a hopeful direction for Kluber, who was pushed by Boone to a place he hadn’t gone in two years.
Kluber threw 91 pitches, the most since he threw 98 for Cleveland on April 26, 2019. Only 50 of his pitches on Wednesday were strikes, though.
"I think with the expectations we all have for ourselves, it’s obviously hard to get past that fifth inning," Kluber said. "But I think if you’re trying to look at the whole picture, I think there’s a lot of good in the first four innings."