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Yankees 3, Rays 6: Bad team drops series to even worse team

The Yankees have tried to maintain that they can compete for the playoffs this year. Losing a series to the Rays solidly proves that they cannot.

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Brian Blanco/Getty Images

If anyone needed proof that the Yankees aren’t in a position to compete for a playoff spot, this series against Tampa Bay should end all doubt. New York went to Florida on a hot streak that may have given some people false hope, and a team that hadn’t reached 40 wins before the Yankees came to town will be looking for the sweep in Sunday’s series finale.

Nathan Eovaldi wasn’t bad, even while allowing some very hard hit balls. Home runs were his issue once again, as they have been all season, with Brad Miller putting the Rays on the board in the first with a solo shot. Curt Casali followed that with a two-run shot in the third inning that would put Tampa Bay on top for good. The box score will give Eovaldi a quality start, surrendering three runs on three hits in six innings. The home runs, however, remain problematic.

The Yankees’ only offense came via the home run with Brett Gardner briefly giving the team a lead with a two-run shot in the third inning. That lead was short-lived. Chase Headley had two of the Yankees’ five hits, and drove in the team’s final run with a solo home run in the eighth inning. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.

Alex Rodriguez’s return to the lineup went about as well as you’d expect for a guy who hasn’t gotten regular playing time as of late. He struck out in all four of his at-bats. Playing him isn’t as big of an issue as batting him fourth, especially with Mark Teixeira expected to be his protection. The two are placed in the lineup based on reputation alone at this point, and it’s going to have ugly results more often than not.

Anthony Swarzak replaced Eovaldi in the game, and brought a can of gasoline and a match to the mound. He turned a one-run deficit into an easy win for the Rays. Steven Souza Jr. singled home Kevin Kiermaier after sloppy defense allowed the latter to advance all the way to third. Kiermaier hustled to second on what was probably a single, and then took third by catching Swarzak sleeping. Tim Beckham launched a two-run homer to cap off the Rays’ scoring and put the game solidly out of reach.

The Yankees offense, as infuriating as it has been all year, let a pitcher with a 5+ ERA off the hook. Drew Smyly had no issue rolling through the lineup, striking out six batters along the way. Maybe if they had been better Swarzak would have never been in the game, but woulda, shoulda, coulda don’t matter much now.

There is only one game left before the trade deadline. The Yankees still haven’t committed to selling, even if there have been more rumors of at least listening to offers for players in the last 24 hours. If you needed any further evidence that selling is the right call, this series should have been enough. Losing to one of the worst teams in baseball doesn’t make you a contender, even when you had a good two weeks that might have tried to sway you otherwise. The writing is very much on the wall.