NEW YORK -- The Yankees' bullpen has had difficulty finding its rhythm after it was bolstered at the non-waiver Trade Deadline with the acquisition of Zach Britton from the Orioles. As the struggles continued on Saturday, Miguel Andujar was there to pick up his teammates with a go-ahead, two-run blast
NEW YORK -- The Yankees' bullpen has had difficulty finding its rhythm after it was bolstered at the non-waiver Trade Deadline with the acquisition of Zach Britton from the Orioles. As the struggles continued on Saturday, Miguel Andujar was there to pick up his teammates with a go-ahead, two-run blast in the seventh at Yankee Stadium.
With two outs, the bases loaded and a two-run Yankees lead in the top of the seventh, Britton walked in a run before Dellin Betances came on in relief and allowed a run to score on a balk to tie the game. But Andujar broke the tie in the bottom half of the frame with his 17th homer of the season that lifted the Yankees to a 5-3 win over the Rangers.
"Like I've always said, you got to stick to you plan," Andujar said through an interpreter. "When I go out there, I have a plan and I'm looking to find a good pitch to hit, hit it hard and hit it somewhere. Just stick to that plan."
Britton recorded two quick outs before allowing back-to-back singles to put runners on first and second. Elvis Andrus then drew a walk to load the bases, and on a 3-2 count with 45,933 fans on their feet, Britton walked in a run, cutting New York's lead to 3-2. Since joining the Yankees, Britton has posted a 7.11 ERA through 6 1/3 frames.
"Right now, it's self-inflicted," Britton said. "All the bad outings I've had here have been self-inflicted of me not throwing enough strikes to where guys respect it, and they stood up there and they make me throw three strikes. And I'm not able to do that right now, so I have to find a way to do it.
"It's about as frustrating as I've been throughout my career right now. … This should be a bullpen where we can roll through innings without having to get somebody in there to clean up a mess like that, so it's frustrating. I'm really frustrated, but if I get an opportunity tomorrow, I've got to go in there and make the adjustment. That's the biggest thing -- it's time I make the adjustment."
Yankees manager Aaron Boone immediately called on Betances to attempt to end the inning, but he balked to give the Rangers a free pass and knot the game at 3.
"That's just an out-of-the-corner-of-his-eye [situation] and not reacting properly right away," Boone said. "That's just where you have to see it and step off the mound immediately and not flinch."
The game wasn't tied for long, as Andujar blasted a two-out, two-run homer to right-center field in the bottom of the seventh to give the Yankees the lead. It was his fourth career go-ahead hit and his second go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later.
"[I feel] very comfortable," Boone said of when Andujar is at the plate. "Not only is he a good hitter, he's a smart hitter. I think he does a really good job of understanding what clubs and pitchers are trying to do him. I think he's really good at going up there with a plan of what he wants to get done. Another big hit for him, obviously in a big spot."
New York ran into trouble again in the ninth, as closer Albertin Chapman battled a steady rain and plunked Adrian Beltre to load the bases with two outs. He was able to escape the jam by striking out Jurickson Profar to record his 30th save of the year.
"He was better, there's no question about it," Boone said. "I thought we saw better life on the fastball. I thought we saw some good sliders. I thought we saw him controlling the zone, even though it got a little dicey there for a while. I think it's a step in the right direction for him and hopefully starting to get him right back on track."
Lance Lynn got the Yankees started with another impressive outing, allowing one run on five hits through five innings in his second start in pinstripes. Since coming to New York, Lynn has permitted just one run through 16 2/3 innings while striking out 22 batters.
"He was huge in Chicago in his first start, going deep into the game and really picking us up. Today, kind of grinding through it," Boone said. "They worked some deep counts on him, fouling a lot of pitches off, so he was only able to get through five, but we were kind of set up from a 'pen standpoint from there. But he's a pro. There's kind of a fearlessness to the way he goes out there and attacks."
Giancarlo Stanton got the Yankees on the board in the first with his 29th homer of the year. Greg Bird and Neil Walker each knocked in runs on base hits in the first and sixth innings, respectively.
After striking out Profar and Robinson Chirinos in his 1 1/3 innings, Betances tied Andrew Miller for the longest streak of relief appearances with at least one strikeout in Yankees history at 28 games. Miller set the mark from May 6-July 17, 2016.
HE SAID IT
"I remember facing him earlier this year and didn't like it. And what he's done so far since I've been here, I like it a lot. So if he keeps doing that, we're going to be all right." -- Lynn, on his opinion of Andujar since joining the Yankees
Carsten Sabathia will close out the four-game series against the Rangers on Sunday. Sabathia (6-4, 3.49 ERA) pitched into the sixth inning for the first time since the All-Star break last time out, tossing 5 2/3 frames while permitting one run on four hits against the White Sox. The left-hander is 11-6 with a 5.12 ERA in 22 career starts against Texas. Fellow lefty Martin Perez (2-4, 6.15 ERA) will get the start for the Rangers. First pitch is slated for 1:05 p.m. ET.
Mandy Bell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York.