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Top Secret Fyles: Yankees’ bullpen needs to be more of a stabilizing force

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From the drawers of the Top Secret Fyles:

The New York Yankees paid a lot of money to upgrade their starting pitching for the 2014 season.

With a three-game set beginning tonight against the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park, New York had better hope the bullpen is straightened out after splitting four games this past weekend at Tampa Bay.

The Red Sox can feast on any bullpen — good or bad. Just ask the Orioles, who blew a 5-0 lead on Sunday and lost at Boston, and almost coughed up a 6-0 edge on Patriots’ Day before holding on to win, 7-6.

The Yankees were fortunate to escape St. Petersburg, Fla., with two wins, considering in the two losses, they were outscored by a combined 27-6 by the light-hitting Rays.

In Friday’s 11-5 setback, Tampa Bay battered five Yankees’ relievers for nine hits and eight runs. Adam Warren not only blew the save opportunity, but also took the loss.

Saturday’s 16-1 trouncing was even worse for the New York, whose three relievers were pounded for eight hits, eight runs (six earned) to go with four walks and three strikeouts.

Backup infielder Dean Anna was forced to come in late and do mop-up work to save the bullpen’s arms.

In the two disasters, the Yankees’ bullpen allowed a combined 17 hits, 16 runs (14 earned) with five walks and four strikeouts over 6 1/3 innings for a jaw-dropping 19.89 earned-run average.

Maybe manager Joe Girardi’s crew turned the corner during the Yankees’ 5-1 win Sunday in 12 innings, though Warren was charged with another blown save.

Preston Claiborne, the last of five Yankee relievers who hadn’t arrived until Sunday morning following his recall from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, earned the win. The relievers allowed three hits, an unearned run to go with three walks and eight strikeouts over seven innings.

Claiborne now may be viewed as the bullpen savior, after he had pitched poorly in spring training and failed to make the opening day roster.

Closer David Robertson is close to returning from a groin injury, pushing Shawn Kelley back to eighth-inning duty.

n The NFL draft is set for May 8-10, and here are Bleacher Report’s latest projected top 10 picks: 1. Texans, Jadeveon Clowney, DE, South Carolina; 2. Rams, Jake Matthews, OT, Texas A&M; 3. Jaguars, Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M; 4. Browns, Blake Bortles, QB, Central Florida; 5. Raiders, Sammy Watkins, WR, Clemson; 6. Falcons, Khalil Mack, OLB, Buffalo; 7. Buccaneers, Anthony Barr, OLB, UCLA; 8. Vikings, Teddy Bridgewater, QB, Louisville; 9. Bills, Mike Evans, WR, Texas A&M; 10. Lions, Greg Robinson, OT, Auburn.

Richie Rich’s Top 10 rankings in Major League Baseball: 1. Athletics; 2. Brewers; 3. Braves: 4. Dodgers; 5. Tigers; 6. Cardinals; 7. Rangers; 8. Nationals; 9. Yankees; 10. Giants.

Times sports copy editor Richard Fyle can be reached at rfyle@wdt.net

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