Rienzo has been a surprising bright spot on the White Sox this season, going 4-0 before Sunday, while Chicago has recorded a victory in each of his six starts. But on Sunday, he was knocked around for five runs (four earned) on seven hits over five innings.
The Yankees walked away with a 7-1 victory, and Rienzo was left licking his wounds.
"I hurt the team," Rienzo said. "I had a little trouble with my command and the ball was up. It’s the same thing as last year: When the ball is up, my ball is hit hard. After that, I kind of controlled the game, but that inning hurt."
Rienzo has worked with pitching coach Don Cooper on refining his cut fastball, but after ditching it in the second half of his outing for a more conventional fastball, he was much improved.
"It seems all day he was just working from behind," manager Robin Ventura said. "He wasn't getting ahead. This was a day that he just wasn't as sharp as he's been in previous outings, so it cost him."
It wasn’t as if the Yankees hit Rienzo hard during a four-run second inning, but they hit him often and found the holes they needed. They simply waited for him to get in a little trouble so he was left with little choice but to throw strikes.
"Honestly, I thought he threw the ball better than what [the stat line] ended up," catcher Tyler Flowers said. "There were untimely mistakes, whether it be early in the count and that hitter decided to be a little more aggressive, or late in the count not putting it in quite good enough a spot, and they were able to find some holes and barrel some up."
Rienzo wasn't able to retire Derek Jeter in three at-bats, lamenting a battle that he desperately wanted to win.
"You know what, he had a great career and I watched him on TV in Brazil before," Rienzo said. "Today I know he was a big name, but I wanted to win. No disrespect, but I wanted to win."