ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The New York Yankees series against the Tampa Bay Rays was all about terrible timing. One hit. One sac fly. One pitch. The margin of error was razor-thin but enough for the Yankees to drop three of four contests to the Rays at Tropicana Field.
There wasn’t much to write home about from this one. The two teams recorded two hits apiece and the Yankees fell 1-0 on a Michael Perez sac fly in the eighth.
Masahiro Tanaka, along with Luis Cessa, made major strides in becoming vital parts of the Yankee pitching staff in 2020. Had this not been his second start, Tanaka probably would’ve gone deeper into the game. Tanaka tossed an economical 59 pitches in five scoreless frames, fanning five, allowing one hit and zero walks.
For his part, Cessa tossed a pair of scoreless frames with two K’s, one hit and zero walks.
HOW ABOUT A FLY BALL?
The New York offense didn’t record a hit until a one-out single by DJ LeMahieu in the sixth inning. The lineup couldn’t push home a run with the bases loaded in the seventh inning. They also couldn’t plate a runner from third with one out in the eighth inning.
OH, THAT’S WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
Conversely, in the bottom half of the eighth, the Rays plated the lone run without the benefit of a hit off Adam Ottavino.
Following two walks sandwiched around a strikeout, Ottavino uncorked a wild pitch, enabling both runners to advance a base. Perez lifted a sac fly RBI to center and that was all Tampa needed.
Maybe it’s something about the Trop that bores players into a false sense of security. The Yankees were pretty much in cruise control but almost made it more difficult than it had to be, doubling up the Rays 8-4.
THERE’S THE BATS!
In the third inning, the Yankee bats got around on Tyler Glasnow. Aaron Judge reached on a one-out single to left. The ensuing batter, Mike Ford, not good enough to play regularly but good enough to bat third when he does apparently, crushed a two-run tater atop the vacant Rays tank in right for a 2-0 lead.
Gerrit Cole was buzzing through the Rays’ bats with great aplomb. In total, the ace right recorded 10 K’s. Yet, with all of those K’s comes a heightened pitch count. This won’t be a popular take but you need more than 4.2 frames out of your ace and Cole’s going to need to find a way to be more economical than tossing 107 pitches without making it through an official game.
A sac fly by Urshela would cap off the scoring in the seventh.
The Yankees found out real fast what happens when you cobble together a Triple-A bullpen game. Nine walks and five runs later it was a 5-3 loss for New York. What exactly does Matt Blake do here?
Michael King was all over the place in the first frame and needed more than 30 pitches to make it through. He did walk in a run but somehow that was the only damage.
The Yankees did manage to tie it on a Luke Voit RBI-single to center off Rays reliever Pete Fairbanks.
King did gain some composure until that bottom of the fourth. After recording a pair of quick outs, King issued a pair of walks to Willy Adames and Kevin Kiermaier and that was the end of his afternoon.
Luis Avilan would enter and issue a walk to Yandy Diaz. That was followed by an Austin Meadows two-run single that found green in left.
Albert Abreu also made his MLB debut in this one and yielded a mixed ledger with 1.1 frames, three hits, two runs, two walks, and two strikeouts.
In the fourth frame, Stanton moved up to second base on a wild pitch and injured his hamstring, landing him on the IL after the game. It’s unbelievable but at the same time perfectly believable. The Yankees were protecting this guy as much as possible, using him solely as a DH and he does this. It’s not like this happened in 40-degree weather either. It’s freaking August!
At least the team has options, be it Clint Frazier, Miguel Andujar, or rotating the DH but that $300 million they’re paying Stanton certainly could’ve been used on more starting pitching in retrospect.
The umpires were not good but and I get that Aaron Boone and Marcus Thames were protecting their guys and probably trying to wake up the team but the umps aren’t going to stop guys from throwing high and tight. If you don’t like it, tell your pitchers to knock down some of the opposing hitters.
TOO LITTLE TOO LATE
This had the feeling of their last game in Philadelphia. With two outs in the seventh, Urshela kept the game alive with a single to center off Jalen Beeks. Erik Kratz followed with a double to right. LeMahieu, the ensuing batter, lined a two-run single to right.
With Nick Anderson in the contest, Judge gave one a ride to deep center but to no avail for the final out.
The Yankees appeared to be coasting until the worst lead in hockey turned into the worst lead in baseball. New York squandered a 3-0 advantage and fell 4-3.
Even with an early exit from Charlie Morton, the Yankee bats couldn’t do much. For a while, it looked like they didn’t need to. Ford was hit by a pitch with the bases juiced in the first inning. During the fifth frame, a three-base error with two outs on a drop in center by Manuel Margot, enabled two runs to score on a ball hit by Urshela. Otherwise, the Yankees went 0-for-8 with RISP.
Yet, the seventh inning was a different story. With one on and one out, Paxton allowed a two-run homer to left to Mike Brosseau. It was a little surprising that Boone didn’t lift Paxton after that, especially with Jonathan Holder warming up. Instead, the ensuing batter, Brandon Lowe, smoked a solo bomb to right to tie the contest at three.
Bullpen management was odd the whole afternoon, especially given the off-day on Monday.
SO MUCH FOR THAT
Even with Britton on in the ninth, the Yankees couldn’t hold off the pesky Rays. Perez bookended the weekend with another winner, this time a walk-off single to right.
At 10-6, the Yankees return home to Yankee Stadium to host the Atlanta Braves for a two-game series starting Tuesday evening.
Pitching probables, Touki Toussaint vs. Jordan Montgomery, TBD vs. Masahiro Tanaka.