New York Yankees RHP Michael Pineda's first-inning problems continued on Wednesday when he allowed four runs in the first inning in a 7-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Yankee Stadium.
Pineda (1-4), who is winless in his last six starts, has a 15.43 ERA in the first inning this season, while opponents are hitting .500/.535/1.026 with five home runs in the first inning. He has given up 20 earned runs in the first two innings this season.
From the third inning on, Pineda has a 2.55 ERA.
"It's not that it happens quickly," pitching coach Larry Rothschild told the New York Daily News' Mark Feinsand. "It's that he gets to two outs and he's made some pretty good pitches getting to that point. We may play around with it a little bit and see, but when he leaves the bullpen he's been pretty much ready to pitch."
Pineda, whose ERA rose to 6.28 after giving up six runs, six hits and four walks in 5 2/3 innings, allowed the first four batters to reach base with two singles, a walk and a HBP. He allowed a sac fly with the bases loaded that gave Kansas City a 1-0 lead, then surrendered a three-run home run to Salvador Perez that made it 4-0.
"I try to do my best in the first inning, but I was hanging my slider and they got a lot of runs in the first inning," Pineda said. "Stay back, try to do my best and stay in the game. ... I know I've been better than that. The only thing I have control of is to keep working, keeping my head up and pitching."
Manager Joe Girardi expressed confidence in the 27-year-old Pineda, who showed flashes of brilliance in an injury-plagued tenure with the Yankees. Last season, Pineda started the year 5-0, which included eight shutout innings against the Toronto Blue Jays and 16 strikeouts against the Baltimore Orioles.
While Pineda pitched into the seventh inning 10 times last season, he has not done so in his last 17 starts dating back to 2015.
"For Michael it's been a couple innings here and there that give him trouble," Girardi told NJ.com's Joe Giglio after the game. "His stuff his there, we know that. At times his slider was great tonight. But he made a mistake in the first inning. It had no movement, it was up in the zone and it turned into a big home run for them. Then he settled in. So, we've got to get him going. We need to get him going early."