The Yankees had a shot at sweeping a struggling Rays team, but David Price again outpitched CC Sabathia and the Rays took the final game of the series, 7-3. The Yankees made Price really work for his win, as he only went five innings and threw 109 pitches, but despite some shaky control (four walks), he held the Yankees to just three hits and one run. Price struck out eight Yankees and consistently stranded runners in scoring position. Rays shortstop Elliot Johnson bailed himself out after making an error to prolong the first by making a terrific play on a Robinson Cano grounder to end the inning. Down 1-0 following a "Bossman Junior" Upton double and an RBI bloop single by backup catcher Jose Lobaton, the Yankees tied the game in the second, although they could certainly have scored more runs since the inning began with Nick Swisher and Andruw Jones reaching base. Jayson Nix failed to get a bunt down and struck out, but the Yankees were fortunate to score that one run anyway when Price uncorked a wild pitch and Swisher scored on a Chris Stewart groundout (somewhere, John Flaherty just went into laughing fits). Derek Jeter walked, but Curtis Granderson struck out for the second time against Price to end the threat.
The Yankees went quietly in the third and fourth while the Rays tacked on four more runs, but they loaded the bases with one out in the fifth (with runners on first and second, Granderson struck out for the third time for the first out... it was a poor day for the Grandyman). Price and Alex Rodriguez then engaged in an epic 11-pitch battle which was arguably the key point of the game; A-Rod was the tying run at the plate, and even a single would have cut the lead in half with Jeter on second base.
via Brooks Baseball
On the 11th pitch, Price got A-Rod to whiff on a ball in the outer part of the strike zone. With two outs, Price induced a groundout from Cano to end the inning. He was done for the night, but he secured the lead and the Rays bullpen (highlighted by two 1-2-3 innings from Wade Davis) kept the Yankees' offense in check for the rest of the game. The Yankees brought the tying run to the plate again in the bottom of the eighth in the form of Eric Chavez (pinch-hitting for Jayson Nix) against Joel Peralta after an RBI pinch-hit single by Raul Ibanez, but Chavez meekly grounded out to first. A solo homer by Russell Martin in the ninth ended the scoring for the evening and the loss was complete. Granderson narrowly missed striking out five times by hitting a very soft grounder off the end of his bat in front of the plate in the ninth inning.
CC turned in a fine outing, though the five runs against might have people thinking otherwise. As previously mentioned, the first run scored against him was courtesy of a poorly hit single by the Rays' backup catcher. A random airball from third by A-Rod caused a two-base error, and it helped the Rays score two runs in the third following a Desmond Jennings double and a sacrifice fly by the younger Bossman. The Rays added a couple more runs in the fourth on three straight hits, capped by a two-run double by #9 hitter Drew Sutton. CC kept the Yankees in the game though, and left trailing 5-1 after seven innings and 12 strikeouts (a season-high). CC had good stuff today, but the Rays just got the hits with runners in scoring position that eluded the Yankees today. They added a couple more runs in the ninth against the mop-lite combo of Clay Rapada and Cory Wade. Considering how much the Rays struggled against Andy Pettitte and Ivan Nova, they were probably due for a little luck with runners on base. Sometimes, the ace just gets outpitched, and CC can't win all of his starts (just most of them). The Yankees still took the series and are still near the top of the American League, so it's not all doom and gloom. It's time to kick some cross-town tail now.
Comment(s) of the Game: waw and JumpinJackFlash discuss A-Rod's selfishness