After having to deal with Jacob deGrom, it appeared as though the New York Yankees were ready to get back on track against the Tampa Bay Rays. Yet, aside from the first game, bad pitching in the second game and a dearth of offense in the final two games would be their undoing. Hence, another series dropped to an AL East opponent.
Starting off their series with the Rays, the Yankees recovered with about as smooth of a bounce back as one would want in their 4-1 victory.
HAPP PULLS A LEFTY LIEBER
J.A. Happ was dealing with a Jon Lieber type pace and making quick work of Tampa’s lineup. At one point Happ retired ten straight hitters. Happ also held the Rays without a hit until the fourth frame. It’s still August but Happ’s outing was a stabilizing force, which may move him up in the pecking order when it comes to a postseason start. On his ledger, Happ tossed seven scoreless innings, yielding one hit and four walks while fanning four.
The Yankees offense didn’t take long to jump out in front of the Rays in the first inning. A one-out double to right by Giancarlo Stanton put the pinstripes in business. After an errant pickoff attempt by Willy Adames, Stanton advanced to third base. Aaron Hicks too full advantage, dunking an RBI-single to center off Hunter Wood, giving New York a 1-0 advantage.
Austin Romine provided some pop in the fifth inning. Romine hammered the first pitch he saw from Jalen Beeks, for a two-run tater to right. Romine’s eighth home run of the campaign gave the Bronx Bombers a 3-0 advantage.
It was hard to gauge what was worse, the attempt to try to keep Luis Cessa and Sonny Gray “relevant” or the fact that the Yankees could only muster a single run against the Rays bullpen in a 6-1 loss.
One could see this coming from a mile away. Cessa was rocked by the Rays and promptly returned to Triple-A following his subpar outing. In a spot start, Cessa coughed up five runs, seven hits and two walks in 3.1 innings of work. A two-run home run by Mallex Smith in the fourth was the final dagger in Cessa’s evening.
It’s so telling that Gray wasn’t even an option to start this game. In fairness, aside from a laborious 30-pitch inning, Gray gave a decent mop-up performance for whatever it’s worth. On his ledger, Gray allowed one run on four hits and three walks in 3.1 frames of work. It was about as low leverage as it gets but it was a notch above Cessa and what A.J. Cole’s been providing them of late.
Providing the offense, of course, was Andujar. During the second stanza, Andujar squared the game at 1-1, clocking a solo shot to left off Jake Faria. Andujar’s home run was No. 19 on his rookie campaign. The rookie third baseman would also collect a double and was the lone Yankee in the lineup with more than one hit.
The matinee finale was unreal in terms of how inept the Yankees offense looked. After Masahiro Tanaka rebounded from a shaky start, there was no big timely hit to be had in the 3-1 loss to the Rays.
Tanaka provided the Yankees with a quality outing, going six innings, allowing nine hits and two runs, fanning six and he also had a pair of pickoffs. Beyond the first frame, Tanaka gave the Yankees a chance to compete and counter back. In that first, Mallex Smith singled, stole second and scored on an RBI-double to center by Joey Wendle. A Tommy Pham RBI-double to left doubled the Tampa advantage to 2-0.
Sloopy play and sloppy umpiring defined what would transpire during the eighth inning.
With David Robertson on, Smith started the Rays offense with a single to right. Wendle laid down a sacrifice bunt and reached on a throwing error by Andujar, which also allowed Smith to advance to third. Ensuing batter Jake Bauers followed with a sacrifice bunt of his own, plating Smith for Tampa’s third run.
During the home half, New York got something cooking when Romine reached on a pinch-hit single to center off Ryne Stanek. Hicks would follow by grounding into a force out but would advance to second base on a throwing error on by Adames.
Stanton, the ensuing batter drove the ball to right, hitting the yellow line on the wall, initially ruled a home run on the field by the umpire but rightly overturned on replay, instead, giving Stanton an RBI-double.
The Yankees’ ninth started out well enough but ended miserably.
Facing Sergio Romo, Gregorius set the table with a single to center. Torres followed with a tough at-bat, punching a 2-2 slider to right. A four-pitch walk by Walker set the stage by loading the bases. Or so they thought.
With lefty Adam Kolarek on, Bird popped out into foul territory on the first pitch. Gardner struck out chasing a sinker. Romine would also go down swinging.
Bases loaded. Zero outs. Zero runs.
At 75-46, the Yankees play host to the Toronto Blue Jays in a three-game series starting Friday.
Pitching probables, Marcus Stroman vs. Lance Lynn, Sean Reid-Foley vs. Luis Severino, Ryan Borucki vs. J.A. Happ.