After trailing 8-1 after the seventh inning, the New York Yankees brought the game-tying run to the plate in the top of the eighth and ninth innings, but were unable to tie the game in an 8-5 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Monday at Kauffman Stadium. >> Read more
- Michael Pineda and Blake Parker combined to allow five runs in the bottom of the seventh inning to turn a 3-1 game into a seven-run deficit.
- Didi Gregorius hit a two-run double, Starlin Castro a sac fly and Chase Headley an RBI single to draw the Yankees within 8-5 in the eighth inning to bring up pinch hitter Mark Teixeira as the tying run. Royals manager Ned Yost brought in Kelvin Herrera, who got Teixeira to ground out to end the inning.
- In the ninth inning, Gary Sanchez and Gregorius hit two-out singles to bring up the game-tying run in Castro, who struck out on three pitches.
- Pineda (6-11) allowed five runs and seven hits in six-plus innings.
- Gregorius went 3 for 5 with two RBIs and Tyler Austin went 2 for 3.
- Kendrys Morales went 2 for 4 with an RBI. Dillon Gee (6-7) allowed one run and four hits in six innings.
- Pineda left after surrendering back-to-back singles to start the seventh inning. Tommy Layne retired the only batter he faced, then Parker came in and allowed a three-run home run to Alcides Escobar that made it 6-1. Cheslor Cuthbert and Eric Hosmer hit RBI singles that extended Kansas City's lead.
- Yankees manager Joe Girardi was ejected in the eighth inning for arguing balls and strikes.
It is true the initial deficit was due to another terrible first inning by Pineda, but he settled down and the Yankees were still in this game as it entered the bottom of the seventh inning, down just two runs. Cue a late pull of Pineda, plus more of the same from the middle relievers, and the Yanks were down seven runs when the inning ended.
All season long, Girardi has made some interesting moves where it concerned his starters -- when it seemed he should stick with one, he would pull them, and in moments when it looked as though the starter was done, Girardi gave him another batter. The results typically did not fall in the Yankees' favor.
Despite Girardi's questionable moves and non-moves, middle relievers have been the biggest on-going issue of the season. The offense and rotation have had their ups and downs, but middle relief has been abysmal all season long. The Yankees have used retreads and low-profile young relievers all season when there are better options available. More often than not, middle relievers have faltered and have cost the team a number games; potentially the same number of games they find themselves back in the standings.
Masahiro Tanaka (11-4, 3.11 ERA) faces Edinson Volquez (10-10, 4.88 ERA) in the second game of a three-game series Tuesday at 8:15 p.m. ET.