The New York Yankees are 5-9, and as Jared Diamond wrote in the Wall Street Journal they're struggling in the clutch, having been in the midst of a 2-for-50 stretch with runners in scoring position. That did change Thursday as they went 3-for-11, although they still lost 7-3 to the A's. It was a painful sweep as the A's took all three games even though the Yankees missed Sonny Gray.
The Yankees have scored more than three runs only once in their past nine games -- and that once was four runs, the Yankees' only victory in this stretch.
Aside from not hitting with guys on the base, the problem when they don't score is it keeps Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller on the sidelines. A great back of the bullpen is only useful if you can get them the ball with a lead or a tie score.
In 14 games -- which includes three off days -- Miller has faced only 20 batters. Betances has faced 29. Giradi has smartly used Miller once in the ninth when down by a run and once with a tie score, but of his six innings, one came in an 8-5 game and one came in an 8-4 game, hardly high-leverage situations. Betances has pitched seven innings: Two of those came in the same close games in which Miller pitched, one came in the 8-4 game and another came when he was the losing pitcher in a 5-3 loss on Opening Day (all three runs he was charged with were unearned).
So those two have hardly pitched, yet in Thursday's loss the Yankees were tied 2-2 entering the seventh inning and Joe Girardi instead brought in Chasen Shreve, even though neither Betances nor Miller had pitched the game before. Shreve is not a very good pitcher. While he had a 3.09 ERA last year, he had 33 walks and 10 home runs allowed in 58 1/3 innings; that's bad. That's not a guy you should be comfortable using late with the score tied. He gave up home runs to the first two batters he faced.
On Tuesday, the Yankees lost 3-2 in 11 innings. The day before had been an off day. Betances pitched the eighth inning, threw 18 pitches, and was taken out. Miller pitched the ninth inning, threw eight pitches, and was removed. Girardi brought in Johnny Barbato. Maybe he'll turn out to be a good pitcher; he has only seven major league appearances. He pitched the 10th inning, and then he was allowed go back out for another inning. He gave up a run and the Yankees lost.
Girardi needs to stop this one-inning nonsense with Betances and Miller, especially when the team is struggling and they've barely been used. These are two of the top, what, five relievers in the game? Betances has proven he can handle a heavy workload for a reliever. Miller used to be a starter. Why would you take him out after eight pitches with the score tied but allow a rookie to throw two innings?
I know it's a long season. I know Girardi knows his pitchers better than I do. They'll get Aroldis Chapman back. But until then, geez, ride your two big horses as much as you can. Because if you're going to rely on your ancient offense and potentially mediocre rotation ... well, good luck.