The Yankees suffered a seventh-inning meltdown on Thursday night.
And this time, Tyler Clippard wasn’t to blame.
Starlin Castro and Gary Sanchez committed costly errors in the seventh, while Dellin Betances gave up a pair of earned runs in the frame — the first time he’s given up an earned run in his last 23 appearances.
It all added up to the team’s eighth loss in nine games — an embarrassing 10-5 defeat to the Angels in which the Yankees blew an early four-run lead.
“We have to turn it around,” Joe Girardi said. “It’s up to us to turn it around.”
Boos were frequent in the Bronx as the evening concluded — and understandably so. The Bombers committed a season-high three errors — including one in the Angels’ two-run eighth.
A fun and unexpected start to 2017 has led to heightened expectations. As a result, fan frustration has only grown as the losses and injuries have piled up.
“It’s a number of things that we need to clean up if we’re going to compete at a high level,” Girardi said.
The Yankees (39-31) haven’t won a series since June 9-11, when they swept the Orioles. They are now in a virtual first place tie in the AL East with the Red Sox (40-32), who were idle.
Aaron Judge’s 425-foot, three-run homer with two outs in the second had staked the Yankees to a 5-1 lead. And with Luis Severino, the team’s most reliable starter, on the mound, a win in the rubber game of this three-game series seemed likely.
But despite not having Mike Trout (torn thumb ligaments), the Angels, who are managing to hang around .500 at 38-38, began to chip away. They scored two in the third, and another in the sixth.
“They’re never out of it,” Judge said. “We kept battling and competing, and they got the best of us.”
The seventh started innocently enough with Cliff Pennington’s single to right off Severino.
But then the Yankees turned into the Bad News Bears. Castro couldn’t handle a potential 4-6-3 double-play ball off the bat of Cameron Maybin, putting runners at the corners.
“The ball took a bad hop,” Girardi said. “When you’re going bad and you’re not doing the things you need to do to win, this is what happens.”
Added Castro: “It moved a bit to my right side. I just tried to keep the ball in front of me.”
Severino was replaced by Chasen Shreve, and Kole Calhoun tied the game at 5 with a sacrifice fly.
Girardi then went to Betances, who came in sporting a ridiculous 0.40 ERA.
It wouldn’t last.
Maybin stolel second and advanced to third on an errant throw by Sanchez. It was the speedster’s 22nd stolen base of the year.
Albert Pujols followed with an RBI single, giving the Angels the lead for good.
Betances later surrendered a two-run double to Andrelton Simmons after walking Yunel Escobar and uncorking a wild pitch. Sanchez and Betances simply got crossed up. After Betances finally got out of the four-run, three-hit, two-error nightmare of an inning, his ERA had risen to 1.16.
“It was just one of those nights,” Betances said. “My offspeed pitches weren’t as sharp as I wanted them to be. And my fastball command wasn’t as good as it was last night. You give them credit, but at the same time you have to be better.”
The Yankees have been plagued by a lot of issues of late. No starter has completed seven innings in their last 11 games. Their bullpen, overtaxed a result, has been terrible. And their dynamic offense hasn’t been able to muster that key hit often enough. On Thursday night, they didn’t have a baserunner from the time Brett Gardner led off the fourth with a single to the time Chris Carter singled with two outs in the ninth.
Add it all up, and you get a floundering team in disarray.
“Nothing’s changed as far as the attitude of the guys in this clubhouse,” Judge said. “That’s what’s been great about these guys. They know there’s always tomorrow, so we just have to regroup, get better and get ready for the next game.”