Day starts badly and ends sim­i­lar

New York Post - - SPORTS - joel.sher­man@ny­ Joel Sher­man

THERE was prob­a­bly a way Satur­day could have gone worse for the Yan­kees. But it would have taken cru­elty and cre­ativ­ity to come up with it.

In less than 24 hours they went from ar­guably their most thrilling vic­tory of the sea­son Fri­day night against the Red Sox to a Satur­day that had all the charm of a Walk­ing Dead script.

Be­fore a pitch was thrown, Masahiro Tanaka joined CC Sa­bathia on the dis­abled list, placed there with an in­flamed shoul­der. Then, while the Red Sox were tak­ing bat­ting prac­tice, Jor­dan Mont­gomery was sign­ing au­to­graphs down the right-field line pro­tected by a net and yet some­how took a line drive off his right ear

He called it a “freak ac­ci­dent” and “a mil­lion-to-one-thing,” but that was the kind of day it was for the Yan­kees.

And then the game be­gan and to make the ro­ta­tion mis­ery all the worse Luis Sev­erino had his worst start of 2017.

Want some good news? Mont­gomery came through test­ing fine and the Yan­kees an­nounced that he would still start Sun­day night. The bad news? That would be ver­sus Chris Sale, who gen­er­ally makes the Yanks look like they should be play­ing in Wil­liamsport, not The Bronx. This sea­son, for ex­am­ple, the lefty has over­whelmed the Yan­kees with 23 strike­outs in 15 2/3 in­nings and just two earned runs al­lowed.

That put a premium on the Yan­kees car­ry­ing the good vibes of Fri­day into Satur­day. But those good vibes stretched only two in­nings.

What fol­lowed was bad pitch­ing, poor de­fense and hol­low at-bats. The fi­nal score was 10-5. That it hap­pened against the ri­val Red Sox only made the bad day worse.

The AL East lead for Bos­ton is again 4 ¹/2 games, which the Yanks will now try to make up with two starters on the DL and Mont­gomery hope­fully noth­ing more than wob­bled.

“It’s prob­a­bly a good thing we made the ad­di­tions we made,” man­ager Joe Gi­rardi said of Sonny Gray and Jaime Gar­cia, whose im­por­tance now rises higher.

The con­stant in the ro­ta­tion this sea­son has been Sev­erino, who un­til Satur­day had been steadily en­hanc­ing his Cy Young can­di­dacy to at least chal­lenge for sec­ond be­hind Sale.

He was handed a 2-0 lead when Gary Sanchez tucked a clas­sic Yan­kee Stadium two-run homer in­side the right-field foul pole in the first in­ning, just as Aaron Hicks had done in the vi­tal eighth in­ning the night be­fore.

Mean­while, Sev­erino breezed through the first seven Red Sox hit­ters in 19 pitches. That took him to one out into the third with a 2-0 lead. But eighth-place hit­ter Chris­tian Vazquez al­tered the course of this game with a su­perb ninepitch plate ap­pear­ance that ended in a walk. Jackie Bradley Jr. then also walked on a full-count pitch. Todd Fra­zier could have helped per­haps bail out Sev­erino, but in his own words he made “a big mis­take”. rush­ing to try to ini­ti­ate a dou­ble play on an Ed­uardo Nunez grounder and in­stead botch­ing the ball to leave bases loaded no outs.

Sev­erino had not yielded more than four hits in any of pre­vi­ous three starts. But with the bases loaded here he gave up four in a row, the most dam­ag­ing a three­run homer by An­drew Ben­in­tendi, who would hit an­other three-run shot in the fifth to as­sure a rout.

Ben­in­tendi be­gan the sea­son as the AL Rookie of the Year fa­vorite, but only now is be­gin­ning to truly per­form to his pedi­gree. It al­most cer­tainly will be too late to over­take the full work of Aaron Judge for Rookie honors. But this was yet an­other game in which Judge’s strug­gles in­fected the team. He went 0for-4 strik­ing out twice look­ing and hit­ting into a dou­ble play. Gi­rardi said he would con­sider an­other off­day soon for Judge in an at­tempt “to get him back on track.”

Gi­rardi had hoped to make Satur­day an off-day for Bryan Mitchell, since he along with Luis Cessa were the can­di­dates to re­place Tanaka to open the Sub­way Se­ries Mon­day. In­stead, Sev­erino lasted 4 ¹/3 in­nings and Mitchell got used.

And who knows how deep Gi­rardi will have to go into his pen Sun­day in sup­port of Mont­gomery, whose hell week went like this: sent down to the mi­nors to be­gin to limit his rookie year in­nings, brought back when Sa­bathia needed to be dis­abled and then hav­ing a ball gash his right ear.

It was that kind of day for the Yan­kees, the joy of Fri­day night dis­solv­ing way too quickly into a mis­er­able Satur­day.

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