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Betances, Starlin take blame for rough 9th

Closer unleashes errant throw to plate; second baseman unable to field hard-hit ball
MLB.com @BryanHoch

NEW YORK -- Dellin Betances has trained his body to repeat a delivery that pumps triple-digit fastballs and knee-buckling curves into the strike zone, which is why he finds it mystifying that soft lobs continue to be an issue.

Betances missed his target in a key spot on Wednesday, flipping an infield tapper to the backstop as part of a sloppy ninth inning as the Dodgers rallied to defeat the Yankees, 2-0.

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NEW YORK -- Dellin Betances has trained his body to repeat a delivery that pumps triple-digit fastballs and knee-buckling curves into the strike zone, which is why he finds it mystifying that soft lobs continue to be an issue.

Betances missed his target in a key spot on Wednesday, flipping an infield tapper to the backstop as part of a sloppy ninth inning as the Dodgers rallied to defeat the Yankees, 2-0.

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"Every loss is a tough one now. Obviously we're trying to make a push for the playoffs, so it definitely hurts," Betances said.

Los Angeles took two of three games in the Interleague series from the Yankees, who settled for a 7-3 homestand and are two back in the American League Wild Card race.

Betances' miscue came after one run was already home in the ninth, with Corey Seager having reached on an error by second baseman Starlin Castro. That was a play that Castro felt he should have made, unable to corral a low liner that scooted into right field.

"I'm really disappointed in myself, because that's an easy play," Castro said. "That's a play that I can make. And now I feel really frustrated. … It started the inning, that's an easy out and that's one of the plays that I always make. And I feel really bad."

Video: LAD@NYY: Seager gets to first on fielding error

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he thought Castro might have misread a ball that had a lot of top spin. Statcast™ readings told a different story: at 100.8 mph off the bat, the expected batting average on Seager's ball was a robust .874.

Regardless, that play set up Justin Turner's run-scoring double down the third-base line. After Betances induced an Adrian Gonzalez flyout, Yasmani Grandal slowly tapped a curveball back to the hurler, who aimed for catcher Gary Sanchez but immediately knew he was in trouble.

"It just didn't feel good out of my hand," Betances said. "As soon as I grabbed it, it felt like I grabbed it on the tip of my hands. The throw kind of sailed on me. I've got to be better at that."

Betances said it might have been a better decision to underhand the ball to Sanchez, but he didn't have much time to consider his options on a reaction play. Girardi said he believes Betances' 6-foot-8 frame may be part of the issue.

"I think the touch throws are always going to be the toughest for him," Girardi said.

The Yankees have worked on similar plays ad nauseam in the spring, when pitchers spend hours executing fielding practice, but Betances said he still senses some hesitation.

"I feel like I'm always planting when I'm throwing the ball," Betances said. "[I need to be] just trusting that it's going to be good, instead of thinking that it might not be."

One of the lessons that Mariano Rivera gave to Betances was that closers need to have a short memory. That's especially true as the Yanks begin an 11-game, 12-day road trip on Thursday, opening a series with the first-place Red Sox.

"Every loss is a tough one. I can't mope on this one," Betances said. "We got a big series in Fenway. We got four over there and I'll try to be better over there."

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch, on Facebook and read his MLBlog, Bombers Beat.

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