After five games of winning the Yankees ran into a bump in the road in their quest to make it back into the playoff hunt in the form of the Rays offense and a struggling Hiroki Kuroda. In six innings, Kuroda managed to turn in one of the worst outings of his career with seven runs and four home runs allowed, both tying his previous highs.
The damage got started early when Jose Lobaton took Kuroda deep for a three-run shot to right field that put the Rays ahead for good in the second inning. Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce greeted Kuroda with back-to-back home runs in the third inning before Ben Zobrist went yard on Kuroda in the fifth. Something about playing in Tropicana Field turns even the best Yankees team into a bunch of guys that barely look like they could pass for professional baseball players and the 2013 version is far from the best Yankees team. If anyone should want the Rays to get out of the Trop, it should be the Yankees.
Kuroda would leave after giving up seven runs and nine hits in favor of Joba Chamberlain to attempt to save a ragged bullpen. The human version of a white flag managed to turn in two scoreless innings but the offense never could recover from the deficit.
What little offense the Yankees could muster was led by Brett Gardner and Eduardo Nunez who picked up two hits a piece. Gardner's hits came in the form of a triple and a single, but he also reached base via a walk and a hit by pitch. After seeing Jayson Nix go down with a broken hand after being plunked a few nights ago it was understandable to hold your breath for Gardner, even after he stayed in the game and was seen in the outfield pressing on his hand. Hopefully this is the last we hear of that but it's 2013, so don't hold your breath.
The two Yankee runs were driven in by Alfonso Soriano with a single and Robinson Cano with a groundout. The team's five hits were scattered enough otherwise not to matter and it didn't help that a number of hard hit balls managed to neatly find gloves all game. Their best chance for runs came and went when Chris Stewart batted with two runners on and managed to drive a ball to left field where it was caught by the newly acquired David DeJesus as he crashed into the wall. Stewart was stunned and there never seemed to be as good of a chance to claw back into the game after that.
CC Sabathia gets the start tomorrow night against David Price in an attempt to tie the series with a chance to win it on Sunday. It's one of the more rare Saturday night games at 7:10 pm. The importance of this series for playoff implications is obvious and the Yankees will need the big man to get back on track and help them keep pace with the rest of the division starting tomorrow night.