New York Yankees RHP Michael Pineda's first-inning struggles continued in Monday's 8-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals at Kauffman Stadium.
Pineda (6-11) allowed RBI singles to Lorenzo Cain, Kendrys Morales and Alex Gordon in a three-run first inning, as his ERA in first innings rose to 7.62 this season. Pineda has a 6.75 ERA in the first and second innings in 26 starts this year.
After the first inning, he retired 15 straight hitters.
"He was able just to put hitters away," manager Joe Girardi said, according to MLB.com's Bryan Hoch. "He had a hard time the first inning doing it, and it looked like he might get out of it with one run, and then it turned into three. Gosh, he was really good after that."
Pineda was burned by two bad innings in his previous start against the Mariners, allowing three runs in the fourth inning and leaving the game in the sixth inning after he allowed two hitters to reach base.
Girardi talked about how complex a pitcher Pineda is before the game.
"We scratch our head sometimes," he said. "He'll go 5 2/3 [innings], strike out 11 guys and give up five runs. We scratch our head, but it just seems like when he makes mistakes, guys aren't missing it."
Pineda needed 25 pitches to get through the first inning, then threw no more than 12 pitches in each of the next four innings.
"It's unusual, because at times he's really, really good," Girardi said. "Then there are times when he leaves a ball up, or doesn't quite get it high enough, or doesn't quite get it low enough. They put it in play and they're base hits."