BOSTON — What Brian Cashman won’t be able to do before Wednesday’s trade deadline is bring in five new starters.
So a member of this Yankees rotation eventually is going to need to pitch well again — preferably, from the club’s perspective, more than one.
Still, they’ll settle for one to at least get the ball rolling, but that process didn’t start Saturday afternoon.
CC Sabathia did not reach the level of awfulness of some of the others in the rotation during the past week, but he nonetheless failed to lift the group out of its collective rot in a 9-5 loss to the Red Sox in front of 36,862 at Fenway Park.
“We’ve been the reason why we’ve been losing games, so we want to turn that around,” said Sabathia, whose 4 1/3 innings marked the longest outing by any of the five starters since Masahiro Tanaka went six innings July 20 vs. Colorado.
Counting the five runs allowed by Tanaka in his final inning in that game and the five runs and nine hits, including two homers, allowed by Sabathia on Saturday, the rotation has a 17.67 ERA and 2.74 WHIP in its last 27 innings, allowing 57 runs (53 earned), 61 hits (including 19 homers) and 13 walks.
The Yankees have allowed 73 runs and 94 hits in their last seven games and have gone 2-5 in that span. The Red Sox have produced 38 runs and 52 hits, including 33 for extra bases, in three games in this series. Nevertheless, the Yankees (66-38) still lead the Red Sox (59-47) by eight games and the Rays by 8 1/2 .
“It’s different things from different guys, but first-pitch strikes and things like that haven’t been good, and it’s just been a bunch of different stuff,” pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “It’s been really tough. It’s tough on them, it’s tough on the team, but it’s my responsibility to get it right.”
Domingo German will try to help the Yankees avoid a sweep when he opposes Chris Sale on Sunday night.
Sabathia departed in the fifth with the Yankees trailing 5-3. “I just left too many balls over the middle of the plate,” said Sabathia, who recorded no outs on the ground (the Yankees didn’t record one until the second out of the seventh). “With the stuff I have now, I have to be pitching to the corners.”
Chad Green, with a 0.69 ERA since May 27, saw that number blow up a bit Saturday after allowing four runs and five hits in 2 1/3 innings to turn the game into yet another rout.
Sabathia struck out one in a perfect 13-pitch first, the first inning in which a Yankees starter didn’t allow a hit since the previous Saturday against the Rockies (Tanaka).
Gio Urshela, who had four hits and two RBIs, then gave Sabathia a lead with one out in the second, lining a 3-and-1 changeup from Eduardo Rodriguez to right-center, one of the deepest parts of Fenway, for a home run and a 1-0 lead. That gave Urshela 11 home runs in 85 games after totaling eight homers in the first 167 games of his career, spanning three seasons.
Sabathia retired the first two hitters in the bottom of the inning before being victimized by some bad luck. Andrew Benintendi, who had three hits, lifted a soft fly ball down the rightfield line that stayed straight and glanced off Pesky’s Pole. His ninth home run traveled 310 feet, more than 100 feet less than Urshela's homer, and tied it at 1-1.
The Yankees actually took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Luke Voit improved to 27-for-60 in his career vs. the Red Sox with a leadoff double and scored on Urshela’s two-out single to center, which improved the third baseman to 24-for-68 with 34 RBIs with runners in scoring position this season.
But Boston quickly retook the lead in the bottom of the inning. Rafael Devers (three hits) led off with a single, and one out later, J.D. Martinez rocketed a first-pitch cutter into the Monster seats in left for his 22nd homer, giving the Red Sox the lead for good at 3-2.
“As I say all the time, it’s inevitable that you’re going to get punched in the mouth in a major league season and we’ll be up to the challenge,” Aaron Boone said. “Our guys are too good in that room, we all know what we’re capable of, and we’ll get it going here hopefully starting tomorrow.”