For a while, it seemed like the Yankees might come up with an improbable win on Friday night. The team overcame a subpar outing from Luis Severino, as well as back from a two-run deficit. Unfortunately the bullpen coughed up a late lead and the Rays took game one by a score of 5 - 4. The Yankees have now lost three of our their first four games at Tropicana Field this season, which is rather annoying.
The Yankees’ bats actually kicked things off in the first inning, collecting three hits while plating a run. Jacoby Ellsbury got the party started with a one-out single up the middle. Matt Holiday then clobbered an Erasmo Ramirez fastball deep to left-center field. I actually thought it had a chance to go out off the bat, but a double would do. Three pitches later and the Yankees had a 1 - 0 lead thanks to a Starlin Castro RBI groundout. Ramirez wiggled out of the inning, but this felt like a good sign.
The fun continued in the third inning as Brett Gardner laid down a bunt single. Longoria fielded the play and fired to first base, but missed the target. This allowed Gardner to advance to second base with no outs, bringing the red-hot Ellsbury to the plate. The Yankees center fielder launched a RBI double to make it 2 - 1, Yankees.
That first Rays’ run came against a struggling Luis Severino. He had to grind through a rather tough outing. Like Ramirez, he surrendered his run in the first inning. Corey Dickerson hit a leadoff single, before moving to third on a pair of fielders’ choices by Kevin Kiermaier and Evan Longoria. A booming double by Logan Morrison scored Dickerson and put Severino on the ropes. He escaped the inning without further damage, but it took 30 pitches to do so.
After a quick second inning. Severino loaded the bases with two outs in the third. He allowed a single to Longoria before issuing back-to-back walks to Morrison and Souza Jr. With Colby Rasmus up, Severino went for the coup de grâce, unleashing three vicious sliders. Rasmus swung and missed on all of them.
Severino once again worked out of trouble, putting himself in a position to pitch a little deeper into the game. All told, he held the Rays to one run over five innings. He allowed five hits and issued three walks, but he stayed in there. This wasn’t Severino’s most impressive outing ever, but it’s encouraging to see him grind a start out when he clearly didn’t have his best stuff working.
Acting manager Rob Thomson turned to Jonathan Holder in the sixth inning, who tossed a scoreless frame. Adam Warren then came on in the bottom of the seventh and allowed three consecutive singles to Dickerson, Kiermaier, and Longoria. With the bases loaded and no outs, Morrison hit a sacrifice-fly to center field. The crowd thought it flirted with a grand slam, but Ellsbury hauled it in before the warning track. It did, however, tie the game. Warren rebounded, striking out Souza Jr., but that would be the last batter he faced.
Chasen Shreve was then called on to face Rasmus. Rays manager Kevin Cash countered by pinch hitting Rickie Weeks Jr. After running up a 2 - 2 count, Shreve hit the inside corner for what appeared to be a called third strike. Instead, the home plate umpire called it a ball.
Weeks then picked up a double on a ball that went under the glove of third baseman Ronald Torreyes. That plated two runs, and gave the Rays a 4 - 2 lead. Shreve eventually retired Tim Beckham, but the damage was done.
The Yankees, however, weren’t finished. With Gardner on second and just one out, Holliday launched a two-run shot off Ryne Stanek. Holliday deposited a 2 - 2 fastball into the right field seats, and the Bombers were right back in it. Unfortunately the fun wouldn’t last much longer.
Tyler Clippard came on in the bottom of the 8th inning. With two outs and two runners on, Longoria struck again. This time he laced a RBI single into left field, giving the Rays a 5 - 4 lead. Clippard has been automatic for the most part this season. He tossed a weak splitter, however, and Longoria made him pay. That let the air out of what was another fun comeback attempt.
Rays closer Alex Colomé worked a perfect ninth to put the Yankees away. This game was fun until it wasn’t. It’s frustrating, but there’s another game tomorrow afternoon. It will be Masahiro Tanaka against Matt Andriese. First pitch is scheduled for 4:10 PM, and you can watch on YES.