Despite playing solid ball recently, the New York Yankees fell to the Astros 9-1 in the first game of their three-game series in the Bronx.
The reason? Andy Pettitte was victimized by his inability to keep pitches down in the strike zone and was booted after 4.1 innings; it was his shortest outing since June 27, 2012, when he was hit in the leg by a line drive and forced to hit the DL. He ended the day having allowed seven earned runs and 10 hits. It wasn’t pretty.
After Pettitte’s ugly showing, rookie pitcher Vidal Nuno made his MLB debut for the Yanks. Nuno, who had a 1.54 ERA in 23.1 innings for triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre, threw three shutout innings, allowing four hits and striking out two.
On the Astros side of the ball, Carlos Corporan, a tank of a 29-year-old catcher, was 4-for-5 with a homer, double and four RBI. Lucas Harrell started the game and threw well for the fifth time in his six starts. He spanned 6.1 innings and only allowed one ER; if you exclude his 4.1 IP, 8 ER start vs. the Oakland Athletics on April 7, he’s 3-1 with a 1.79 ERA in 2013.
Pettitte’s start highlights what many have criticized as the Yankees’ biggest flaw this year. The veterans Brian Cashman and crew brought in to tape the roster together until the return of Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira and Derek Jeter are finally slowing down after hot starts. Lyle Overbay is 3-for-20 over the past week, and Travis Hafner 3-for-12, and outfielder Ben Francisco is 3-for-29 on the season. Jayson Nix, the utility man thrust into a starting position as part of the Jeter emergency plan, only has 13 hits in 56 2013 at-bats. Yes, the Yanks scored 10+ runs in nine straight games, but they also allowed 7+ in each of them. Those run totals won’t remain so inflated — especially with guys like Hafner scuffling — so if their hurlers don’t turn it around, the Yanks’ middling success seen thus far won’t last.