Chicago White Sox come up short despite late rally in 4-2 loss to the New York Yankees

NEW YORK — Chicago White Sox starter Mike Clevinger felt “really strong” in the first three innings of Friday’s outing against the New York Yankees.

“Hit a little wall in the fourth again,” Clevinger said. “That’s kind of been kryptonite.”

The Yankees scored twice in the inning against the right-hander and led the rest of the way, beating the Sox 4-2 in front of a sellout crowd of 46,025 at Yankee Stadium.

Clevinger allowed three runs on five hits with five strikeouts and two walks in 4 2/3 innings in his third start of the season.

“This one came in a little bit stronger,” he said. “And just need to get past that wall around 50 pitches.”

His velocity was slightly up — averaging 93.4 mph with a max of 95.8 mph. But he’s looking to carry that longer in future outings. After going two-plus innings in his first start on May 6 against the Tampa Bay Rays, Clevinger has lasted 4 2/3 innings in each of the last two outings.

“I just want to be able to hold velocity, hold stuff,” Clevinger said. “Had it the first three (innings) and then watched it shrink down there in the fourth quite a bit and then in the fifth, kind of laboring again. Just trying to hold that.”

Clevinger surrendered a solo home run to Aaron Judge in the first inning. The 433-foot blast, which had an exit velocity of 114.4 mph, ended a consecutive scoreless streak for the Sox at 19 innings.

The Sox tied it in the third inning on an RBI single by Andrew Vaughn, but the Yankees retook the lead with two runs in the fourth.

Judge walked and moved to second when Martín Maldonado couldn’t corral a Clevinger changeup, resulting in a passed ball.

Alex Verdugo drove Judge in with a double to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Verdugo scored when Giancarlo Stanton followed with another double.

Clevinger exited after allowing a two-out double to Juan Soto — and an intentional walk to Judge — in the fifth.

“I thought Clevinger threw the ball well for the first three innings,” manager Pedro Grifol said. “I thought he ran out of gas a little bit, but he kept pitching and made some good pitches. He’s building. He’s just getting stronger and stronger as we go.”

Clevinger is 0-2 with a 5.56 ERA in his three starts.

“He’s got definitely a lot in the tank for capacity to be filled,” Grifol said. “He was strong, his velocity was up early. And then he was able to dig a little deep there in that last inning and make some good pitches. But at that point, it was time to bring (Tanner Banks) in.

“If he gets Soto out, I’m sending him back out for at least one hitter (in the sixth). Just because I wanted him to get that up/down. We have to continue to build him. We’ve got to get him in a position where he can consistently give us five, six, seven innings like he’s capable of.”

Banks surrendered a solo home run to Stanton in the sixth, as the Yankees extended their lead to 4-1.

Vaughn collected another RBI single in the eighth, and Gavin Sheets followed with a pinch-hit double to give the Sox second and third with one out.

The Yankees went to left-hander Caleb Ferguson to face lefty Andrew Benintendi.

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“I considered (right-handed hitter Korey) Lee,” Grifol said. “We talked about that early on before the game, but Ferguson is a reverse split for us. I like the matchup with (Benintendi) putting the ball in play.”

Ferguson struck out Benintendi and got Corey Julks to line out to right. Zach Remillard drew a two-out walk in the ninth, bringing up Tommy Pham — who had singles in the first and fifth and a double in the eighth. But Clay Holmes struck out Pham to end the game.

“We played good baseball, they just outplayed us,” Pham said. “We competed. That’s all you can ask for. Today they came out on the other side.”

The Sox went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position. Outs on the bases earlier in the game — like Julks getting tagged out trying to go from second to third on a grounder back to the mound in the fourth and Remillard getting picked off second an inning later — also stood out as the Sox fell short in the series opener.

“I feel like we’ve been playing good baseball,” Clevinger said. “Putting things together on both sides of the ball. Still some things we all need to iron out, me especially.”