CHICAGO — Hold off on that Michael-Pineda-seems-to-have-found-it narrative.
Some goes for the Yankees’ offense.
Wednesday night, both earned goat-horn status in a 5-0 loss to the White Sox in front of 21,144 at U.S. Cellular Field.
First, the offense.
The Yankees (41-43), who fell to 2-4 on this three-city, 10-game trip that continues Thursday night against the AL Central-leading Indians, were shut out over seven innings by Miguel Gonzalez, a pitcher who came in 1-4 with a 4.88 ERA but one who allowed just five hits Wednesday.
The Yankees had eight hits overall, three apiece by Jacoby Ellsbury and Didi Gregorius.
This, after banging out 20 hits the night before.
“You’re as good as your starting pitcher is the next day, as far as momentum,” said Chase Headley, who went 0-for-4. “Theirs was really good tonight. Mikey, for the most part, was really good, too. He just had a tough inning.”
Pineda was unable to keep what had been his best stretch of the season going.
The righthander, who came in 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA in his last six starts, allowed five runs and five hits over six innings. He fell to 3-8 with a 5.38 ERA, undone Wednesday by a four-run second inning in which the White Sox (44-41) scored all of their runs with two outs.
“The second inning after the two outs, I make mistakes with my slider,” Pineda said.
Said Joe Girardi: “It’s frustrating for him, it’s frustrating for us because it started with two outs. He wasn’t able to make a pitch.”
The Yankees, who went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight and actually outhit Chicago 8-5, had a chance to give the pitcher an early lead but stranded two in the first.
Ellsbury improved to eight for his last 23 with a leadoff single and he moved to second on Brett Gardner’s ground out to first. After Carlos Beltran flied to left, Brian McCann walked, but Mark Teixeira struck out to end the 24-pitch inning.
Pineda retired the first five batters he faced, then came apart in the second.
Brett Lawrie singled with two outs and went to second on a passed ball, which especially seemed to disrupt Pineda.
He walked Dioner Navarro, then allowed an RBI single on a 2-and-1 slider to Avisail Garcia. J.B. Shuck, the No. 9 hitter, pounced on a straight, 1-and-0 95-mph fastball and sent it left for an RBI double that made it 2-0. Tim Anderson then yanked a 0-and-2 slider past a diving Chase Headley at third for a two-run double that made it 4-0.
“I was working well in the counts, I was getting two strikes early,” Pineda said. “I tried to finish it off with my slider and my slider today was not the best.”
An aggressive Ellsbury tried to get the momentum back in the third. He ripped one into the rightfield corner and headed for second. Rightfielder Adam Eaton, however, showed off his cannon arm, throwing a strike to the shortstop, Anderson, who applied the tag just before a sliding Ellsbury arrived.
The White Sox added on in the sixth when Pineda hit Melky Cabrera with a pitch and allowed a single to Todd Frazier, which put Cabrera on third. Cabrera came in on Lawrie’s 4-6 fielder’s choice, making it 5-0.
It was yet another game in which the Yankees could not build on what they had done the day before; any kind of sustained run to get to and above the .500 proving elusive.
“We can’t get over the hump, we can’t play consistent enough to get over the hump to get to five games over or get to 10 games over,” Girardi said. “It’s a number of different things. It’s pitching at times, it’s swinging the bats at times.”
And, too often this season, both at once.