Bad timing: Yankees' reliable relievers falter

After club shows signs of breaking out of RISP funk, bullpen serves up 3 of A's 4 homers

April 22nd, 2016

NEW YORK -- Some good fortune finally seemed to be swinging the Yankees' way in the department of runners in scoring position, making it the least opportune time for their usually reliable bullpen to spring a leak.

Chasen Shreve served up back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches to Khris Davis and Coco Crisp in the seventh inning, while rookie Johnny Barbato served up a two-run blast to Chris Coghlan in the eighth inning as the Athletics completed a series sweep by dealing the Yanks a 7-3 loss at Yankee Stadium on Thursday.

"They've been really good all year long," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "It's going to happen from time to time. It's just tough when you're playing the way we are and you're trying to salvage a win out of the series."

The offense has not provided much room for error; the Yankees managed an Aaron Hicks RBI single to shallow center field and Austin Romine's run-scoring dribbler up the third-base line in six innings against left-hander Rich Hill, perhaps feeling fortunate to get that much.

That, combined with Luis Severino's solid six-inning, two-run effort, had Shreve protecting a tied game as he took the mound in the seventh. He was stunned as Davis launched his first pitch, a 91-mph fastball, over the wall in center field. Crisp then pounced on a 92-mph heater, sending it into the second deck in left field.

"I missed my spots, for sure. But you miss your spots a lot and they don't hit home runs on them," Shreve said. "The one to Davis was up and a little away, but pretty much down the middle. To Crisp, it was trying to go out, and it cut in and was a little in."

Trying to keep the game close after Starlin Castro punched a run-scoring single in the seventh, Barbato recorded two quick outs in the eighth but issued a four-pitch walk to Stephen Vogt. Coghlan made him pay, turning on a 95-mph fastball for two more runs.

"I go out there, the first two guys I'm on point and the next guy you walk on four pitches," Barbato said. "Can't do that. The next guy, I fall behind in the count. You've got to stay positive."

Entering Thursday, the Yanks' bullpen had allowed just one homer in 42 1/3 innings. Barbato said that the Yankees' offensive issues have not piled extra pressure on the relievers.

"I know we're all going to click eventually, and we're going to be dangerous when it happens," Barbato said. "Right now, everybody just needs to keep a positive mindset, and I think we're going to be perfectly fine."

Girardi said that finishing the homestand on a better note is crucial. New York hosts the Rays for a three-game set that opens on Friday before a three-city, 11-day trip that will have the Yankees visiting the Rangers, Red Sox and Orioles.

"It's just kind of the way it's going right now," Girardi said. "We have a new series tomorrow, and we have to go out and win a series before we go on this road trip. We're going on a long road trip, so tomorrow is an important game. We got the hits with runners on today, but it's not enough."