Sunday, April 6, 2014

New York Yankees: Michael Pineda sharp, offense dull in loss

The New York Yankees fell to the Toronto Blue Jays Saturday 4-0, despite a superb effort from Michael Pineda in his first regular season big league start since September 2011.

R.A. Dickey and three Blue Jays relievers held the Yankees (2-3) scoreless despite having two runners on base in each of the final five innings.

Pineda was sharp and did not look like he has missed a beat since his final regular season start with the Seattle Mariners. His fastball was still reaching 95-mph in his final inning of work. He allowed one run on five hits, no walks and struck out five hitters. He threw 58 of his 83 pitches for strikes.

The sixth and eighth innings were particularly frustrating to watch as Jacoby Ellsbury and Derek Jeter singled and walked respectively to start each frame. Carlos Beltran grounded into a double play in the sixth and Brian McCann struck out to end the first rally. In the eighth, Beltran struck out, McCann grounded out and Alfonso Soriano whiffed. Soriano is now 0-for-16 this season with five strikeouts.

What seemed surprising to me was the non-call made by Yankees manager Joe Girardi with Soriano in the eighth. The Blue Jays (3-3) had brought in closer and right-hander Sergio Santos on for a four out save.

Sitting on the bench were left handed hitters Brett Gardner (off day) and Ichiro Suzuki. Why let Soriano, who has looked lost since he picked up a bat in spring training, hit in this situation? That was not the time to let him work through his issues in my opinion.

To make matters worse, David Phelps, in his second inning of work allowed three runs (including homers to Melky Cabrera and Jose Bautista) in the bottom of the eighth and squashed any notion of a ninth-inning rally.

Getting back to the one positive in the game; Pineda’s performance was reassuring. He had a very nice spring, winning the job after a tight competition with Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno. Pineda came to camp physically ready and mentally focused to make the club. Now, he could serve as one of the better end of the rotation pieces in the league.

Pineda is still just 25-years-old and as he continues his progression this season, there is once again a palpable excitement in his being on the team. He has the tools to be a bonafide top of the rotation hurler so long as he remains physically prepared and maintains his concentration.

Game Notes:
  • Mark Teixeira was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right hamstring
  • Kelly Johnson got the start at first base and Francisco Cervelli will serve as the backup first baseman if necessary. Austin Romine was called up to serve as the backup catcher.
  • Ellsbury is sizzling at the plate, stroking three more hits to raise his average to .375
  • Yangervis Solarte, who figures to serve as the primary third baseman with Johnson shifting to first, upped his average to .538 with two singles
  • The Yankees have yet to hit a home run this season -- remember the "too many damn home runs" days?
Today’s Game:

CC Sabathia looks to bounce back from his Opening Day start in which he allowed six runs in his first two innings of work. He’ll face Blue Jays righty Drew Hutchison who did not give up a run in 5.1 innings of work in his first start of the season, earning the win over the Tampa Bay Rays.

Yankees logo courtesy of

Christopher Carelli is a freelance sports writer/editor and the Director of Content Strategy for Sportsideo.