It was another mediocre night for the Yankees, who continue to struggle coming out of the gate in 2021. The friendly confines of New York and Yankee Stadium couldn’t help the quiet Bronx bats.
Finishing off a two-game series against the Atlanta Braves (8-10), the New York Yankees (6-11) lost 4-1, almost being shut out entirely if not for some sparks at the end. Corey Kluber was not great once again, but the offense was more at fault. Batting leadoff, DJ LeMahieu went 0-5, leaving four men on base and Giancarlo Stanton went 0-4 with a strikeout. On top of this, the Yankees only had a runner in scoring position three times during the entire nine innings.
For the Braves, Austin Riley shone the brightest; he went 2-2 with two walks, three runs and a solo home run to finish off the game and secure the win.
Two Starters, Two Generations
There was a 12-year age gap between the two opposing starting pitchers today and you could tell. Kluber is 35 while Braves’ pitcher Ian Anderson will be 23 in a couple of weeks.
Their pitching lines say it all. Kluber, who has had a rough start to the season, had another mediocre performance today–although not as bad as his last time out. He pitched 4.2 innings, his most this season, while giving up two runs, two hits and two strikeouts. Even though it was still early, Kluber had already thrown 91 pitches, including a single and three walks in that inning alone. Before he was taken out, he surrendered a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0. His replacement, Nick Nelson, surrendered a walk of his own to make it 2-0 for the Braves. All in all, Kluber gave up four walks. Of his 91 pitches, almost half of them were balls: 5o strikes to 41 balls.
On the other hand, there was Anderson, who pitched 6.2 scoreless innings. Despite giving up the same amount of walks and allowing four hits, he only threw six more pitches than Kluber. It was mostly smooth sailing for him until the seventh inning, where a single and two walks loaded the bases with two outs. Anderson was replaced by A.J. Minter, who was brought in to take care of LeMahieu. Unfortunately, LeMahieu couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity, instead grounding out to third base.
Two Offenses, Two Different Stories
Just like it was with the starting pitchers, the opposing offenses turned out to be quite different from each other.
The Yankees’ seventh-inning chance was one of the few dangerous moments of the game. In fact, it was only the second time they were able to get a runner to scoring position; the first instance came in the second inning after Gleyber Torres singled and Aaron Hicks walked. They did not get another runner to scoring position until the ninth inning, where Hicks walked and moved to second on defensive indifference. Clint Frazier then got his first hit of the game, a single past Freddie Freeman that allowed Hicks to score. However, the late-game rally stopped there as LeMahieu flied out.
It was a different story for the Braves, who rallied for four runs after just scoring one in yesterday’s 3-1 loss. After chasing out Kluber in the fifth and scoring two runs, they did not score again until the top of the seventh. Luis Cessa intentionally walked Freeman to load the bases before Marcell Ozuna grounded into a force out to let a run score. It was unearned, as LeMahieu had committed an error earlier on.
Their final run came off the bat of Riley, who hit a solo shot in the top of the ninth against Brooks Kriske. Despite scoring three more runs than the Yankees, the Braves went 0-8 with runners in scoring position compared to 1-3 for the Yankees. Things certainly could’ve been a lot worse but luckily they weren’t.
Yankees Lose Key Player
Luck wasn’t on the the Yankees’ side, however, when Gio Urshela left the game with an injury. He left in the eight inning and was later diagnosed with lower back tightness. To make up for this, LeMahieu was moved to third base while Rougned Odor came in to play second base. Even though he was only 1-3 up until that point, he still has a .276 AVG so far. Thankfully, the Yankees have the depth to make up for this injury but it’s still a tough blow. There is still no clear timetable as to when he’ll return but hopefully it’s sooner rather than later.
Upcoming Games for the Yankees
Today’s game was the last of a two-game home series against the Braves. Tomorrow, the Yankees will travel to Cleveland where they will take on the Indians in a four-game series at Progressive Field. The first game will see Domingo Germán face off against Aaron Civale. It will be Germán’s first start since April 10th, when he gave up four runs in four innings against the Blur Jays. As for Civale, he is 3-0 with a 2.18 ERA so far. In his last start, he pitched six innings against the White Sox, allowing one run with four strikeouts.
The Indians, whose game against the White Sox today was postponed, are 8-8 so far this season. Even though they will be playing at home, they should offer an opportunity for the Yankees to get back on track. If the Yankees can’t start swinging the bat more and keep struggling, it will be a long season. After their series against Cleveland, the Yankees play four against the Orioles. They will definitely have to prepare for those games.