NEW YORK -- A month ago, the Yankees traded for Lance Lynn to plug a leaky rotation that struggled to get consistent production from its back end, particularly the No. 5 slot. A month later, they still have the same problem.Which is why it was with some irony that Sonny
NEW YORK -- A month ago, the Yankees traded for Lance Lynn to plug a leaky rotation that struggled to get consistent production from its back end, particularly the No. 5 slot. A month later, they still have the same problem.
Which is why it was with some irony that Sonny Gray was called upon to relieve Lynn on Sunday, when Lynn's shortest start in pinstripes led to an 11-7 loss to the Tigers at Yankee Stadium. Lynn was acquired largely to offset the struggles of Gray, whom he supplanted in the rotation after the non-waiver Trade Deadline. His issues in the time since could put his spot in jeopardy, especially after allowing six earned runs in 3 2/3 innings to a Tigers lineup stocked with rookies.
"Rough day for him," said Josh Bard, who managed the Yankees on Sunday in place of the suspended Aaron Boone. "But we believe in him a lot, and he's going to be a big part of this thing moving forward."
Bard would not specify what role Lynn would have, but the door is open for the Yankees to make a rotation swap the next time they need a fifth starter, should they decide to do so.
"What we try to do here is put guys in the best possible position to succeed," Bard said. "So when we get to that point, we'll see."
In Gray, Luis Cessa and the recently recalled Jonathan Loaisiga, New York has three pitchers in its 11-man bullpen who have also started this season. Gray's bullpen role has been limited, but he's produced in it: His relief ERA sits at 2.70 after tossing four innings of one-run ball on Sunday. The eight starts that Loaisiga (the club's No. 3 prospect) and Cessa have combined for helped patch together the rotation before the trades for Lynn and J.A. Happ.
The hard reality is that although the Yankees have options to help them get to October, none is likely to pitch significant innings once they're there. Advancing in the postseason would require only four starters; Lynn's outing on Sunday was the latest effort in a cold stretch that, if nothing else, has likely removed his name from that conversation.
"I have to be better next time out," Lynn said. "That's all there is to it."
The bulk of the damage came in Detroit's 5-run fourth, when rookies Ronny Rodriguez, Dawel Lugo and Victor Reyes -- who combined to go 6-for-6 off Lynn -- set the stage for JaCoby Jones' two-run double, which chased Lynn, and Nicholas Castellanos' two-run homer off reliever Tommy Kahnle. Lynn also surrendered runs on a Niko Goodrum single in the first, and Reyes' RBI double in the second.
"Jam single, six-hopper single, beat fastball, double down the line, chopper down the line, double," Lynn said. "That's what happened."
Though the Yankees remain 35 games above .500, this was their fourth loss in seven games against the Tigers and White Sox, both non-contending teams. And after holding opponents to one run over his first 16 2/3 innings with the Yankees, Lynn now has a 9.16 ERA across his last four starts. He's allowed at least five runs in three of those. All have come against clubs with sub-.500 records.
"When you look at my season as a whole, I've had bad stretches where I've had good stuff, and then I've gone out there and had a game where I've gone six innings, no-run baseball with the [worst] stuff of the year," Lynn said. "You have to keep attacking and keep doing everything you can to help the team win. That's all you can do."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Trailing by five in the eighth, the Yankees staged a comeback that, despite only yielding one run, came within inches of tying the score. After RBI singles by Miguel Andujar and Neil Walker narrowed Detroit's lead to three runs, Bard summoned Greg Bird to pinch-hit with the bases loaded. The move itself was notable: Bard chose the struggling Bird over Giancarlo Stanton, who was given the day off but was available. Knowing the threat of Stanton loomed, Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire kept right-hander Victor Alcantara in to face the left-handed-hitting Bird.
The gamble worked -- barely. Bird pulled a 0-1 fastball 343 feet to the right-field wall, where Reyes hauled it in to end the threat and leave the bases loaded. By the time the Yankees pushed two runs home an inning later, the Tigers had added three more to their lead.
"I got it good," Bird said. "I knew I didn't get it, get it. But I got it good. I was jumping a little bit, but it came up a little short."
Starting over Bird for the ninth time in 11 games, Luke Voit belted an opposite-field solo homer off winning pitcher Matthew Boyd in the fourth. It was Voit's fifth home run in 17 games with the Yankees since being acquired from the Cardinals. The 27-year-old hit five home runs in 70 total games over parts of two seasons with St. Louis.
Andujar could sense danger coming as he sprinted down the third-base line in the first on Gary Sanchez's single. He must have, because seconds before scoring, he raised his left hand to his helmet to shield himself from Michael Mahtook's throw from left field. The baseball plunked him after it sailed inside the line, allowing him to scoot home safely, unhurt.
FLASH THE LEATHER
Two newcomers made a defensive impact in the third, when Adeiny Hechavarria and Andrew McCutchen took away hits with sprawling catches. Making his first start at shortstop in pinstripes, Hechavarria lunged to his right to snare a line drive from Castellanos. A batter later, McCutchen raced in and left his feet to rob Goodrum. Both were acquired in trades on Aug. 31.
HE SAID IT
"I could pout and be just a distraction for the team, but I'll keep my head up and keep going. It's life. It's baseball. I'm not going to put my head down, and I'm not going to pout. ... It's great. He's doing a great job. It's awesome. It's good for our team. We have a goal here, and that's to win. He's doing his job, and I have to do mine, whatever that is. That's how I look at it. It's fun seeing your teammates having success." -- Bird, on Voit, who has leapfrogged him on the first-base depth chart in recent weeks
The Yankees travel to Oakland to begin a 10-game road trip against the upstart A's on Monday, in a likely preview of the American League Wild Card Game. New York has had a hold on the first Wild Card spot for months, while the A's have enjoyed at least a share of the second spot since Aug. 1. Bay Area native Carsten Sabathia (7-5, 3.36) takes the ball against right-hander Trevor Cahill (5-3, 3.60) in the opener, set for 4:05 p.m. ET at the Coliseum.
Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.