NEW YORK (AP) – Ian Anderson took a shutout into the seventh inning, Austin Riley homered and the Atlanta Braves scraped by with just four hits to beat punchless New York Yankees 4-1 Wednesday night.
Corey Kluber (0-2) kept New York in it with his best start yet in pinstripes, but the Yankees lost for the sixth time in seven games due to a star-studded lineup that has almost entirely spaced out.
Anderson (1-0) limited the Yankees to four hits and four walks in 6 2/3 innings, striking out four against the club he also beat in his major league debut last season. The 22-year-old right-hander threw 97 pitches as temperatures dipped into the low 40s in the late innings.
New York loaded the bases against Anderson with two outs in the seventh, but reliever A.J. Minter got DJ LeMahieu to hit an inning-ending grounder to third. Will Smith allowed a run in the ninth but closed out the five-hitter.
The suddenly listless Bronx Bombers are hitting .163 in their past seven games, averaging 2.57 runs, with nearly half the lineup stuck in a serious slump.
At 6-11, the Yankees are off to their worst start since 1991. Their 58 runs are fewest in the AL and their slugging percentage is the lowest in the major leagues.
Giancarlo Stanton had a 117.3 mph lineout but went hitless, dropping to 3 for his last 34. Gleyber Torres had a hit but is just 4 for his last 32 with 1 RBI this season. Aaron Hicks is in a 1-for-17 rut, although he walked twice. Clint Frazier blooped a ninth-inning single to break a 1-for-27 slide, picking up his first RBI of the season in his 45th plate appearance.
Gio Urshela – among the few Yankees swinging the bat well – was lifted in the top of the eighth with lower back tightness. He ran gingerly to first on an inning-ending double play in the sixth. Manager Aaron Boone said the injury does not appear to be serious and no tests are planned.
The Yankees’ pitching has been better, and Kluber (0-2) had his best start since signing an $11 million, one-year free agent deal. He was charged with two runs, two hits and four walks over 4 2/3 innings, throwing 91 pitches.
The two-time AL Cy Young Award winner was sharp until the fifth, when he allowed a single, three walks and Ehire Adrianza’s sacrifice fly before leaving with two outs, the bases loaded and Atlanta up 1-0. Nick Nelson relieved and walked Marcell Ozuna on four pitches to make it 2-0 before striking out Travis d’Arnaud.
New York’s defense faltered in the seventh, letting Atlanta go ahead 3-0. First baseman Mike Ford misjudged Riley’s popup leading off, resulting in a single, and Riley advanced when second baseman LeMahieu was charged with an error for bobbling Guillermo Heredia’s grounder.
After a sacrifice bunt and an intentional walk to Freddie Freeman, Riley scored when Ozuna beat out a potential double-play despite having his bat splintered by reliever Luis Cessa.
Ozuna was 0 for 4 but had two RBIs. Riley was the only player in the game with two hits – including a leadoff homer against Brooks Kriske in the ninth – and also walked twice.
Riley was also hit by a ball in the mouth in the third inning but stayed in the game. Frazier made a diving catch to rob Adrianza of a hit then tried to double Riley off at first, and his throw hit Riley in the lips. Riley was visited by a trainer but stayed in the game.
Braves: OF Ronald Acuña Jr. was held out of the lineup for a second straight day with a mild abdominal strain. He hit off a tee pregame and is progressing, but manager Brian Snitker wasn’t sure if he’d be ready for the team’s next game Friday. … LHP Drew Smyly (left forearm pain) will start Saturday.
Yankees: New York expects to have 85% of its players, coaches and staff with Tier 1 access fully vaccinated soon. The club reached roughly 84% Wednesday, 14 days after the bulk of the team was given its shots, but a few staff members were inoculated at a later date. Once that second batch achieves full vaccination, New York will become exempt from certain safety restrictions and protocols put in place by Major League Baseball.
Braves: RHP Huascar Ynoa (0-1, 3.94) faces Diamondbacks RHP Luke Weaver (1-1, 3.78) to open a three-game home set Friday night.
Yankees: RHP Domingo Germán (0-2, 9.00) returns from the alternate site to make his third start after missing all of 2020 serving a ban for violating MLB’s domestic violence policy. He’ll face the Indians and RHP Aaron Civale (3-0, 2.18) in the opener of a four-game series at Cleveland.
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