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A familiar theme: New York Yankees vs Rangers series recap

The Yankees began a nine game road trip in Arlington, Texas with a matchup against the Texas Rangers.  The team was coming off of a series win against the Tampa Bay Rays.  The team had shown some signs of coming out of an offensive funk that had plagued them for the past week and were hoping to get their starting rotation to become more consistent and build off of their series win.

Nasty Nate

The Yankees would send Nathan Eovaldi to the hill in the series opener against Cesar Ramos, who was making his season debut for the Rangers.  Eovaldi has had a couple of good starts to begin the season be wiped out by one bad inning.  His night in Texas would possibly be the best start by a Yankee thus far in 2016.

The evening started off inauspiciously as the Yankees came up empty handed in the second inning after having the bases loaded and only one out.  But, Jacoby Ellsbury would lead off the third inning with his first home run of the season to put the Bombers up 1-0.  Two batters later, Mark Teixeira would double in Carlos Beltran to make it 2-0.  Starlin Castro would tack on a solo shot in the sixth inning for the Yankees third run.

The story of the night, however, was Eovaldi as he carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning.  He showed good command of all four of his pitches and consistently got weak contact on ground ball after ground ball.  A bleeder of a single against the shift off the bat of Nomar Mazara would give the Rangers their first hit of the night.  Eovaldi would quickly erase that baserunner by getting Adrian Beltre to hit into a double play.  He would end up pitching to one batter in the eighth, becoming the first Yankee starter to do so this season.  He finished the night giving up two hits and striking out six in seven shutout innings.

The only mark against the Yankee pitching staff on this night would come from Brett Nicholas‘ home run off of Dellin Betances in the eighth.  Not only was it the first home run of Nicholas’ career, but it was the first earned run against Betances in 2016.  Andrew Miller finished up in the ninth inning for his fifth save of the season.

There were many positives from the night.  A great starting pitching performance, the solid as expected bullpen, and enough power to get the job done.  This is the way things are supposed to go, right?  The only poor takeaway from the night would have to be the fact that the Yankees were still only 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position with 8 men left on base.  I don’t know about everyone else, but I am about ready to be done with this stat for the year.

Not a commanding presence

Luis Severino would get the start on Tuesday night as he would try to build some consistency to his 2016 season.  A lack of command of his secondary pitches and just plain leaving too many pitches up in the zone have been his downfall thus far.

The Rangers got on the board in the first inning with a pair of hits from Mazara (there’s that guy again) and Prince Fielder.  After getting the first two outs in the third inning, Severino’s night began to quickly unravel.  The details were pretty gory, but a pair of hits and an intentional walk loaded the bases for Ian Desmond.  Another walk, a couple of RBI hits, and a wild pitch made it a 5-run inning for Texas and a 6-0 deficit for the Yankees.  Ivan Nova would relieve in the fourth with thoughts of auditioning for a shot at the rotation.  Four innings of average relief might not have answered any questions as he gave up five hits and three runs, one of which was a home run.  Chasen Shreve would give up a Desmond home run in the ninth to finalize things at 10-1.

Severino would only make it three innings on a tough night in the rain.  Six runs on seven hits with two walks and a lone strikeout would push his season ERA to 6.86.  How long of a leash he will be on moving forward is anyone’s guess.  Larry Rothschild will have his work cut out for him as he tries to coax his young hurler.  Severino is just not missing many bats right now and leaving your fastball up in the zone against a team like the Rangers is a recipe for disaster.  With the lack of a real alternative at this point, he will probably get a few more starts to try and work out the kinks.  A pair of off days sandwiching the Red Sox weekend series could give the perfect opportunity to skip his next start and allow Severino a chance to regroup.

The offense didn’t do much either against A.J. Griffin with Teixeira and Ronald Torreyes coming up with a pair of hits each.  Griffin seemed to keep the Yankee bats off balance all night and got a lot of weak contact by changing speeds.  An opportunity for a series win is still out there, however, as the Yankees will send C.C. Sabathia to the hill in the finale.

Good enough to win, but no W

Sabathia would be matched up against Martin Perez in Wednesday’s game.  The last time the Yankees had seen Perez, they lit him up for for seven hits and eight runs on their way to a 21-5 win.  Hey, when you are hitting the way this team is right now, you have to pick up any positive thought possible.

Sabathia would pitch good enough to get a win most of the time.  Nothing outstanding, but enough to keep the Yankees in the game.  Three runs on five hits, while walking three and striking out five in six innings.  Once again, however, the offense would struggle to put anything together.

Rodriguez would be the lone bright spot for the team, as he would return from missing a couple of games with an oblique issue to go 3-for-3 with a homer, double, and single.  His two-run bomb in the third would tie the game at 2, but that would be all the Yankees would scratch on this night, losing 3-2.

Two runs.  The Yankees have scored two runs or fewer in exactly half of their games.  Through these 20 games, they have scored a total of 72 runs.  That is the lowest run total this far into a season since 1990, which was not during a grand time in Yankee history.  15 of these 20 games have seen them score three or fewer runs.  Not much positive to be taken away from these numbers other than the fact that maybe the pitching has been a little better than thought, since these offensive numbers would make you think their record would be worse than 8-12.

The end of April is upon us and there is still plenty of baseball to be played, but at what point do you have to start to think that this team is just not going to put it together offensively?  With no other team lighting it up in the AL East, a short win streak would have them right back in the mix.  It has not been for a lack of opportunity.  The Yankees were 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position on Wednesday, a familiar theme to the season.  A few hits at key times and enough of these 12 losses could have been turned around to at least have them matching the Orioles first place record.  That sounds pretty good right now.  It just goes to show that as poorly as the offense has been, they are not that far out of the mix that they can’t still claw back into things.

The Yankees have an off-day on Thursday, before opening a weekend series at Fenway.  Maybe a little Green Monster target practice will be in order for the weekend.  That would be a sight for sore eyes.  At least, I know it would be for me.