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Yankees shut down to finish 2-4 on road trip

Cessa optioned after laboring through 3 IP, while diminished lineup tallies 4 hits ahead of Red Sox series
MLB.com @BryanHoch

PHILADELPHIA -- The frequently voiced mantra in baseball is that you never should look too far ahead, a theory that manager Aaron Boone generally subscribes to. The Yankees made an exception for a crucial series against the Red Sox, attempting to set up as best as possible for an upcoming showdown between the top clubs in the American League East.

With CC Sabathia tabbed to open the Boston set, Luis Cessa struggled in a three-inning spot start on Wednesday while the Phillies' Zach Eflin breezed past a diminished lineup that permitted Aaron Judge's big bat to rest. Philadelphia salvaged the finale of the Interleague series with a 3-0 victory, ending a 2-4 road swing for the Bombers.

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PHILADELPHIA -- The frequently voiced mantra in baseball is that you never should look too far ahead, a theory that manager Aaron Boone generally subscribes to. The Yankees made an exception for a crucial series against the Red Sox, attempting to set up as best as possible for an upcoming showdown between the top clubs in the American League East.

With CC Sabathia tabbed to open the Boston set, Luis Cessa struggled in a three-inning spot start on Wednesday while the Phillies' Zach Eflin breezed past a diminished lineup that permitted Aaron Judge's big bat to rest. Philadelphia salvaged the finale of the Interleague series with a 3-0 victory, ending a 2-4 road swing for the Bombers.

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Video: NYY@PHI: Cessa leaves 'em loaded with a key strikeout

"We feel like we've got a really good team," Brett Gardner said. "Obviously, this wasn't a great road trip for us. [The Red Sox] have got a really good team. We've been right there within a game or two of them, it seems like all year. It'll probably be that way for the next few months, too. It's always a battle with those guys."

Aaron Hicks contributed two of New York's four hits in the contest, and as Eflin fired seven impressive innings, the Yankees almost appeared to be fast-forwarding to the intense games that await on the other side of their bus ride north up the New Jersey Turnpike.

"It was definitely nice to come here and bounce back and have a good series against a tough team," Boone said. "Obviously, going into the off-day [on Thursday], it would've been really nice to really finish off and turn it into a pretty good trip, but we'll move on."

Video: NYY@PHI: Boone on Cessa's form, defensive effort

Making his first big league start of the season, Cessa threw 74 pitches, including a 1-2 slider in the second inning that Rhys Hoskins slugged over the wall in right field for a three-run homer.

The Phils made more loud contact against Cessa in the third, though the righty was bailed out by Gardner and Giancarlo Stanton, who contributed a pair of excellent back-to-back grabs that robbed Carlos Santana and Aaron Altherr of hits.

"Gardy made an amazing catch. Giancarlo made an amazing catch, too," said Cessa, who was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre after Wednesday's game. "After that, I'm thinking, 'OK, we're competing again.' Really amazing catches."

Giovanny Gallegos kept the game close, striking out a career-high six over three scoreless innings, and the Yankees got uneventful frames from Jonathan Holder and Domingo German. New York's bats were unable to break through against Eflin, who walked two and struck out six before Seranthony Dominguez logged a six-out save.

Video: NYY@PHI: Gallegos freezes Hernandez, K's the side

"Eflin, you can see why they're excited about him," Boone said. "I thought he threw the ball really well and really was in command. He shut us down. We were pretty quiet."

SOUND SMART
Since being recalled on April 21, Holder has not allowed an earned run in 23 relief appearances. That's the longest streak in the American League this season, and tied for the second-longest in the Majors (Yoshihisa Hirano of the D-backs has tallied 24). Holder has retired 83 of 97 batters during the streak.

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Gardner stole an extra-base hit from Santana in the third inning, reaching above his head to snare the deep drive while slamming into the left-field fence. Gardner said that he was momentarily stunned by the play, but shook it off and remained in the game without issue.

"I think I was expecting it to go a little further and a little more in the gap," Gardner said. "I had run sideways on the warning track for it. I was thinking it was hit better than that; I think the wind knocked it down a little bit. I was fortunate to get to it."

Video: NYY@PHI: Gardner makes a phenomenal leaping catch

Two pitches later, Stanton was in motion, tracking Altherr's line drive toward the right-field corner. Stanton secured the ball in front of the auxiliary scoreboard on what was rated a four-star catch by Statcast™, with a 30 percent catch probability. Stanton had to cover 83 feet in 4.9 seconds to make the play.

"I thought Giancarlo got a great break on the ball in the corner; tough play, slicing away from him," Boone said. "Really good play out there by both those guys to keep it a game, really."

Video: NYY@PHI: Stanton races toward wall to make the grab

UP NEXT
Following an off-day on Thursday, the Yankees will send Sabathia (4-3, 3.18 ERA) to the mound, opening a three-game series against the Red Sox on Friday at 7:05 p.m. ET. Sabathia has lost back-to-back starts for only the second time since the start of 2017, and has not lost three consecutive starts since the beginning of 2015. Boston counters with left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (9-2, 3.86).

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

New York Yankees, Luis Cessa