CLEVELAND — For all their first-half success, there are pitfalls ahead.
The Yankees may have gotten a glimpse of the difficulties that could haunt them in the second half. On Friday the 13th, they fell to the Indians 6-5 at Progressive Field against a rookie pitcher who handled them for seven innings.
Shane Bieber, a fourth-round pick, the 122nd selection in the 2016 draft out of UC Santa Barbara, Barry Zito’s school, was terrific, allowing only a three-run fifth inning as the Indians’ dreadful bullpen held on for the victory, with Cody Allen getting a huge double-play groundout from an overanxious Miguel Andujar in the ninth.
“We’ve got a great team,’’ Boone said of his 61-32 Yankees.
They do, but they also have some problems that must be addressed or they will be left behind in the poststeason, and it was not a good night for Boone.
With Giancarlo Stanton on deck, Aaron Judge was caught trying to steal second to end the eighth on an Aaron Hicks strikeout off a 3-2 pitch with one out. Boone gambled and lost.
“Definitely something I second-guess it a little bit,” Boone said.
Stanton homered to lead off the ninth inning off Cody Allen.
It was a breaking ball, and Judge was called safe, but the call was overruled on a replay challenge.
Bieber outpitched Domingo German, who went only four innings and walked the first two batters he faced, allowing six runs on five hits, once again putting a spotlight on the fact the Yankees need to get a starter, any starter.
They are 60 feet and 6 inches short, and they know it.
There are slim pickings, but to me, Texas’ Cole Hamels is the most competitive of the bunch and could benefit the most being with this powerful lineup. Hamels ran into trouble in the seventh inning Friday night but beat the Orioles 5-4.
Sure, there are money issues if the Yankees trade for Hamels but that’s life — the Yankees have money.
There is too much talent on this Yankees team not to make a full-throttled push, but that is something that will work itself out before July 31.
The Indians can be a difficult postseason hurdle for the Yankees if they acquire much-needed bullpen help, especially with the dynamic duo of Francisco Lindor and MVP candidate Jose Ramirez. After scoring four times in the first two innings with German twice walking Lindor, who came around to score each time, Ramirez got the critical hit against German when he tripled in Lindor in the fifth after the Yankees had trimmed the lead to 4-3.
Lindor leads the majors with 85 runs scored. Ramirez leads the majors with 56 extra-base hits (28 home runs).
In that sequence, Boone showed the problem of sticking with a struggling starter just a bit too long, something that has hindered him his rookie year of managing. Boone is caught between trying to build the confidence of his young pitchers and building relationships, and that can backfire on occasion.
Boone has brought many pluses to the job, but he still does not have the feel for getting that starter out before deep damage is done. He is working with starting-pitching issues, so he is trying to get as much as he can from this group.
Even ace Luis Severino has struggled his past two times out. He went five innings in a 7-4 win Thursday night, but for the second straight outing, he surrendered two home runs. Severino could be gassed heading into the All-Star break.
There is reason to worry about Aroldis Chapman’s balky knee as well. He pulled himself out of the All-Star Game. This is a situation Boone said must be monitored the rest of the season.
After Stanton homered, his 23rd, to lead off the ninth and make it a one-run deficit. Greg Bird then singled, but Andujar immediately hit into the double play. The rookie was much too anxious in that at-bat. After Neil Walker walked, pinch-hitter Didi Gregorius ended the frustrating night with a popup to short on the first pitch.
The patience wasn’t there on Friday night. Brian Cashman is being patient. A couple of moves must be made to really make these Yankees great.
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