Rare hiccup from bullpen proves costly

Rare hiccup from bullpen proves costly

BALTIMORE -- With the Yankees' offense struggling this season and the starting rotation battling inconsistency, the bullpen has been among the team's biggest strengths. But in dropping two of three games to the Orioles, including Sunday's 3-1 loss, the bullpen was unable to protect a couple of late-game leads.

"They're not going to be perfect," manager Joe Girardi said.

The Yankees were clinging to a one-run lead in the seventh inning Sunday when reliever Dellin Betances worked around a leadoff single to Ryan Flaherty to keep New York ahead. The Yankees began the day 25-0 when leading after seven innings. They ended the day 25-1.

Betances returned for the eighth, and after jumping out 0-2 against Mark Trumbo, the right-hander lost him to a walk. Chris Davis followed with a 1-0 single. Both Trumbo and Davis would score after a 97-minute rain delay as Aroldis Chapman blew his first save in 10 attempts this season.

"It's tough," said Betances, who dropped to 2-4 on the year after taking the loss in both defeats this weekend. "You don't want to put your closer in that situation. I'm used to getting out of my own inning, but I had thrown a lot of pitches and, obviously, the weather stopped the game for a while, but I put him in a tough spot."

Betances has now allowed at least one run in his last four appearances, allowing seven hits and six earned runs over 4 2/3 innings.

"Things aren't going my way, but I have to keep moving forward," he said.

Betances said he feels fine physically and chalks up his recent struggles to bad luck.

"They're laying off some good pitches," he said. "It's not like I'm giving up extra-base hits. Right now, it's a lot of ground ball hits that they're getting."

Chapman found himself in an unusual spot, having warmed up before the delay but not throwing his first pitch until play resumed. The Yankees' closer struck out Jonathan Schoop on four pitches, but then gave up a single to catcher Francisco Pena to load the bases with two outs.

After getting ahead 0-2 on pinch-hitter Matt Wieters, Wieters drilled a 101-mph fastball up the middle to give Baltimore the lead.

"It's tough for Chappy to have to come back after an hour-and-a-half rain delay," Girardi said. "I didn't really want to use Andrew Miller today, so it was a tough situation. He got the count where he wanted and just didn't get the ball where he wanted."

"I feel normal," Chapman said after blowing his first save since Sept. 15, 2015. "It's a situation where I didn't get the job done, but you've got to put it behind you and look forward to tomorrow."

Ben Raby is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Washington, D.C./Baltimore region. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.