NEW YORK (AP) — A Red Sox fan from upstate New York, Ian Anderson imagined he might one day win at Yankee Stadium.
Probably, he wasn’t picturing a Bronx Bombers lineup so thoroughly lacking in punch.
Anderson took a shutout into the seventh inning, Austin Riley homered and the Atlanta Braves scraped by with just four hits to beat listless New York 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 from Clifton Park, New York — just north of Albany — had family in the stands, including his grandmother, who hadn’t seen him pitch in person since high school. He threw 97 pitches as temperatures dipped into the low 40s in the late innings.
“I felt right at home out there in the cold,” he said.
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.
At 6-11, New York is off to its worst start since 1991. Its 58 runs are fewest in the AL and its .334 slugging percentage is the lowest in the major leagues.
The Yankees are hitting .163 in their past seven games, averaging 2.57 runs, with nearly half the lineup stuck in a serious slump.
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.
“I know we’re walking out there with heavy artillery every night,” manager Aaron Boone said. “We’ve just got to unlock it.”
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge said the slumping feels contagious — one poor at-bat leaking into the next, with the collective struggles sapping the team’s intensity. He remains optimistic New York is one spark away from a hot streak.
“We don’t need to make drastic adjustments,” he said. “We’re right here.”
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.
A misplayed popup by first baseman Mike Ford and an error at second by LeMahieu helped Atlanta go ahead 3-0 in the seventh, with Riley scoring 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.
“First extra-base hit of the year for me,” Riley said. “Been on that singles train for a while. That felt good.”
Riley was also struck 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.
Torres hit a slow-roller on a check swing in the seventh and jogged to first, giving d’Arnaud plenty of time to throw him out. Boone said he wasn’t happy with Torres’ effort and said he’d talk about the play with him.
“That has to be a little better, obviously,” Boone said.
Torres said he didn’t initially realize the ball went fair, but said he should have run harder to first once he did.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK
Anderson is from upstate New York, and half of his four big league victories have come against the Yankees. He had family in attendance Wednesday.
“He’s got a way of slowing the game down,” Snitker said. “He has some great traits for a young pitcher.”
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: 3B Gio Urshela was lifted in the top of the eighth with lower back tightness. Boone said the injury does not appear serious and no tests are planned. … New York expects to have 85% of its players, coaches and staff with Tier 1 access fully vaccinated soon, which would exempt the club from certain safety restrictions and protocols put in place by Major League Baseball. … Kriske was optioned to the alternate site after the game.
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.
Follow Jake Seiner: https://twitter.com/Jake_Seiner
More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports