Yankees’ offense sputters again in ugly loss to Braves
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The Yankees snapped their five-game losing streak Tuesday, but a night later, their brutal early season offensive funk remained alive and well.
Without the bases-loaded wild pitch the Braves gifted to them Tuesday to mask their struggles, the Yankees’ offense continued to sputter in a 4-1 loss to Atlanta on Wednesday night at a frigid Yankee Stadium.
It was another lifeless loss for the Yankees (6-11), who mustered just five hits (all singles). They did draw six walks, but stranded nine base runners and didn’t score until Clint Frazier’s RBI bloop single with two outs in the ninth. That came a night after five hits were just enough to squeak out a win over the Braves (8-10), but on Wednesday there was no life raft from the Atlanta bullpen.
Corey Kluber gave the Yankees a solid start. He was in control through four scoreless innings until he lost his command in the fifth and surrendered a pair of runs. But even a perfect outing wouldn’t have been enough to save the Yankees on this night.
Braves starter Ian Anderson, an upstate New York native, looked right at home pitching in the chilly conditions. The Yankees hardly made him break a sweat for most of the night as he cruised through six innings on just 78 pitches.
They finally put together their biggest threat of the game in the seventh inning, when a Mike Ford single and two-out walks to Gary Sanchez and Frazier loaded the bases. But A.J. Minter relieved Anderson and put out the fire by getting DJ LeMahieu to ground out.
Manager Aaron Boone juggled the lineup ahead of Tuesday’s 3-1 win, and he tweaked it again Wednesday, trying to find some kind of spark. He bumped Giancarlo Stanton into the three-hole for the first time this season and had Gio Urshela, one of his most productive hitters of late, batting cleanup. Struggling outfielders Aaron Hicks and Frazier also re-entered the lineup after not starting Tuesday
It hardly made a difference. Urshela, after going 1-for-3, exited the game in the eighth inning with lower back tightness. Stanton went 0-for-4 with a strikeout while Hicks and Frazier combined to go 1-for-5 with three walks.
Kluber was sharp through four innings, inducing weak contact while giving up just a single and a walk and stranding both runners. He got some help in the third inning, when Frazier ran a long way in to make a diving catch in left field on a fly ball from Ehire Adrianza.
But Kluber began to wear down in the fifth inning. Pablo Sandoval made the hardest contact off him all night to begin the fifth with a line-drive single to right field. One out later, Kluber got Austin Riley into an 0-and-2 count, only to walk him. He then walked No. 9 batter Guillermo Heredia to load the bases.
Adrianza gave the Braves the 1-0 lead with a sacrifice fly to center field, as Sandoval came lumbering home from third for the game’s first run.
Kluber then walked Freddie Freeman on four pitches — his third walk of the inning — to reload the bases and mark the end of his night at 91 pitches.
Nick Nelson relieved Kluber and walked Marcell Ozuna on four pitches to force in a run and make it 2-0 Braves.Nelson finally found his command, striking out Travis d’Arnaud to leave the bases loaded.
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