CHICAGO — If Adam Ottavino is now joining the increasing ranks of the struggling, the Yankees won’t get out of this funk anytime soon.
Ottavino made it two straight games in which he got touched by the long ball, surrendering a leadoff blast to Leury Garcia in the seventh inning, which sent the Yankees to a 5-4 loss to the White Sox Thursday night at Guaranteed Rate Field.
“Gave him a pretty good pitch to hit and he didn’t miss it,” Ottavino said of the full-count slider that Garcia hit out. Garcia had fouled off five pitches while in an 0-and-2 hole. “He hadn’t looked too great on my previous sliders, he was kind of hanging in on them so I didn’t have a ton of fear in the moment, but he did a good job. I threw one right down the middle and he crushed it.”
The Yankees (41-26), who watched J.A. Happ blow the 4-0 lead he took into the fifth inning, have lost seven of their last 10. The White Sox (33-34) have won 10 of 15.
“It’s been just a little bit of everything,” Aaron Boone said of his club’s slide.
Thursday night it was Ottavino, yes, but mostly Happ, who was given a four-run lead and was cruising heading into the fifth.
But there were signs of trouble in the fourth when the lefthander issued two of his four walks and loaded the bases with two outs. Happ got out of it, retiring Jose Rondon on a pop out.
Happ, however, made it three walks in four batters, walking Yolmer Sanchez to start the fifth. Ryan Cordell singled and Garcia’s RBI double to left-center made it 4-1. Tim Anderson came next and ripped a belt-high fastball to center, his 10th homer tying it at 4. It marked the 17th homer allowed in 14 starts by Happ this season.
“I just didn’t find a way to get out of there like I did in the fourth,” said Happ, who allowed four runs, all in the fifth, and five hits over five innings. “I think the leadoff walk was the big thing . . . I find a way to get out of the fourth, then I should have learned a lesson to attack and get ahead and went out in the fifth and didn’t get it done.”
After Happ, Tommy Kahnle pitched a scoreless sixth and Ottavino came on for the seventh.
The reliever, who brought a 1.53 ERA in 29 games into the night, quickly got ahead of Garcia 0-and-2 and admitted to maybe getting a little frustrated as the centerfielder fouled off pitch after pitch before belting his fourth homer.
“I give a lot of credit to him for fighting me there and getting me in that spot,” Ottavino said. “It’s frustrating, you try not to think about that [him fouling off pitches] in the moment and just keep making pitches. Credit to him. He fought and he didn’t miss the one that I gave him.”
Kelvin Herrera allowed a two-out single to Didi Gregorius in the eighth but still struck out three.
With closer Alex Colome unavailable, lefthander Aaron Bummer allowed a one-out hit to Clint Frazier but struck out pinch hitter Gio Urshela and then DJ LeMahieu for his first save.
Former Yankee Ivan Nova entered 3-5 with a 6.28 ERA and wasn’t very good, allowing four runs and six hits in 5 2/3 innings.
Four Chicago relievers held the Yankees scoreless after Nova left.
"There’s a fine line between winning games and not winning games,” Boone said. “We just haven’t been quite as crisp in every facet. Hopefully tomorrow we can start turning the corner on it.”