No starting pitching, no hitting, no chance.
Two games into the second half, the Yankees have too closely resembled their first-half selves, with the latest effort resulting in a 5-2 loss to the Red Sox on Saturday afternoon in front of 48,329 at the Stadium.
The loss got the Yankees (44-46) off to a 0-2 start on a 10-game homestand that, after Sunday night’s game against the Red Sox (51-38), continues with four games against the AL East-leading Orioles and three against the Giants, who have the best record in the majors.
“It’s got to turn around [Sunday night],’’ said Joe Girardi, who will send Masahiro Tanaka to the mound vs. David Price. “This is probably as important game that we’ve had in July in a long time.”
Scouts from teams in need of relievers and/or a hitter already were heavily scouting the Yankees before the All-Star break. Leading up to the Aug. 1 trade deadline, expect more of them to descend like vultures.
If much more of this continues, general manager Brian Cashman may yet get the green light from ownership, reticent to this point about a sell-off, to deal marketable pieces such as Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Carlos Beltran.
“We need to win games,” Brian McCann said. “We need to get on a streak and we need to start hitting and just start playing better baseball.”
CC Sabathia, as of mid-June the club’s best starter, was subpar for a fifth straight outing and the offense was subpar for seemingly the 60th or 70th time this season. (In fact, the Yankees have scored two or fewer runs 35 times in 90 games, going 4-31 in those games.)
In their two games against the Red Sox, the Yankees are 9-for-62 (.145).
The Yankees were shut down by lefthander Eduardo Rod riguez, who came in 1-3 with an 8.59 ERA in six 2016 starts. But he had experienced past success against the Yankees and did so again Saturday.
Rodriguez allowed one run and four hits in a season-high seven innings, improving to 4-1 with a 2.01 ERA in five career starts against the Yankees.
“Really just beating us with fastballs,” Mark Teixeira said, complimenting Rodriguez’s cutter in particular. “He didn’t throw a whole lot of off-speed, just enough to get us off the fastball. He pitched well.”
Sabathia, meanwhile, had a 2.20 ERA after beating the Twins on June 16. In five starts since then, he has allowed 27 runs (25 earned) and 39 hits (including five homers) in 28 1⁄3 innings.
He allowed five runs (four earned) and nine hits in 5 1⁄3 innings against Boston, with the big blow Sandy Leon’s three-run homer to left on a 2-and-0 cutter in the sixth. That gave the Red Sox a 5-1 lead. Chase Headley’s leadoff homer off Matt Barnes in the eighth made it 5-2.
Girardi and Sabathia noted the limited number of hard-hit balls — three infield hits contributed to Boston rallies — but there also were two scorched line drives hit right at defenders. “He didn’t have much luck today,” Girardi said. “He pitched a lot better than what it’s going to look like.”
Sabathia agreed, but only to an extent. “It’s baseball,” he said. “They count as hits and you have to make pitches to get out of those situations.”
The Red Sox scored an unearned run in the third after a throwing error by Didi Gregorius. The Yankees came right back in the bottom half when Brett Gardner (two hits) slammed a 3-and-1 fastball over the right-centerfield fence and into the Yankees’ bullpen. His sixth homer of the season and first since May 18 tied it at 1.
Infield hits by Jackie Bradley Jr. and Bryce Brentz in the fourth led to an RBI single by Leon — a soft grounder through the hole into leftfield — that made it 2-1.
The Yankees stranded two runners in both the fourth and fifth innings before Leon’s three-run shot in the sixth.
“It’s disappointing,” Teixeira said. “We wanted to start off strong in the second half and we really haven’t. It’s very disappointing, but we can get a win tomorrow and try and get on a roll then.”
“ER” healthy vs. Yanks
Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez entered yesterday’s game with a 1-3 record and 8.59 ERA in six starts this season. He was a different pitcher against the Yankees.
Previous six starts
29 1⁄3 IP
29 Runs (28 earned)