CLEVELAND — After Luis Severino bombed in Tuesday’s wild-card game, it figured there was no way Sonny Gray could be any worse.
Though Gray managed to make it out of the first inning of the Yankees’ 4-0 loss to the Indians in Game 1 of the ALDS on Thursday, he wasn’t much better.
Gray gave up three runs in just 3 ¹/₃ innings, walking four and surrendering a two-run homer to ex-Met Jay Bruce in his playoff debut with the Yankees.
“Jay Bruce is the guy that really hurt him,” Joe Girardi said. “Besides that, he pitched pretty well.”
That doesn’t do the Yankees much good.
And it hardly was the performance the Yankees were looking for when they traded three prospects to Oakland before the trade deadline to acquire the right-hander.
“It’s tough,” Gray said. “I put everyone on our side in a disadvantage. I put us in a hole we weren’t able to climb out of.”
Gray loaded the bases with no one out in the bottom of the second by allowing a double to Bruce and a single to Carlos Santana, then he hit Lonnie Chisenhall with a pitch.
Gray was able to minimize the damage by getting Roberto Perez to hit into a double play that scored Bruce, then Giovanny Urshela flied to right to keep it 1-0.
He retired the side in order in the third but found trouble again in the fourth.
He walked Edwin Encarnacion to lead off the inning before Bruce hit a towering fly ball that reached the seats in right to give the Indians a 3-0 lead.
He left with two runners on, but Adam Warren prevented Gray’s outing from being even worse, getting the final two outs of the inning without allowing another run.
But it still was an ugly night for Gray, who came to the Yankees from Oakland in exchange for right-hander James Kaprielian, infielder/outfielder Jorge Mateo and outfielder Dustin Fowler.
“It’s obviously frustrating,” Gray said. “I felt OK. I thought my stuff was good, honestly. When you put guys on base, more times than not, it’s not gonna turn out in your favor.”
It was the second bad outing in a row for Gray, who gave up six runs and walked a season-high five in his final regular-season start last week against Tampa Bay. He’s also pitched poorly in three of his past four starts, with a five-run, four-inning performance against Baltimore on Sept. 17.
On top of all that, the Yankees have lost four of the past five times Gray has pitched.
Thursday was Gray’s third postseason game.
He pitched twice for the A’s in the ALDS against the Tigers as a rookie in 2013.
In his first game, he tossed eight scoreless innings in a 1-0 victory, outdueling Justin Verlander. Later in the series, he was no match for Verlander and gave up three runs in five innings.
Four years later, Gray came up with his worst playoff outing at a bad time for the Yankees, who had to work an already taxed bullpen hard again and now go into Game 2 against Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber down 1-0 in the series with very little margin for error.