In a way, this loss felt inevitable. The Yankees rolled out a non-competitive starter on the mound, and for some reason, they’ve been unable to consistently beat the Rays this season. Lo and behold, those two factors came into play as Tampa Bay pummeled New York, 6-1.
Luis Cessa gave up a ton of hard contact in the early stages of the game. It’s only natural the Rays put the first run on the board courtesy of bloop single in the second inning. Brandon Lowe collected the RBI, scoring Kevin Kiermaier from second. Tampa Bay threatened for more when Michael Perez flirted with a two-run homer to right field. Neil Walker, however, reeled the ball in at the top of the wall for the final out of the inning.
Instead of bouncing back in the third, Cessa promptly loaded the bases with no outs. He struck out Joey Wendle, and that opened the door for a double play. Ji-Man Choi nearly obliged, grounding a rocket to Didi Gregorius. The Yankees shortstop flipped to second for the force, then Gleyber Torres fired to first. Choi beat out the throw and a run scored, but that play came up huge. Unfortunately, it went for nought, as Kiermaier singled in another run. The Rays exited the frame with a 3 - 1 lead.
They didn’t stop there, though. With one out in the fourth inning, Mallex Smith crushed a two-run homer to right field. Having coughed up five runs, Aaron Boone saw enough out of Cessa. The right-hander had nothing going for him, the Rays squared everything he offered up. It’s minor miracle he only allowed five runs. The next time the Yankees have a hole to plug in the rotation, can they not turn to Cessa? Please?
Jonathan Holder came in to bail the Yankees out of the fourth, and he did his part. Sonny Gray took over in the fifth, however, and he did not. He allowed a run on a Lowe single, plating Choi in his first inning of work. And while that was the lone run he served up, Gray worked nothing but long counts. He constantly pitched himself into jams. Boone had to pull him after 3.1 innings, four hits, and three walks. I’ve been a fan of his for a long time, but Gray has been painful to watch.
The Yankees, meanwhile, collected their only run in the bottom half of the second when Miguel Andujar crushed a solo homer to left field. Rays starter Jake Faria left a 92 mph fastball square over the plate.
If you put a pitch on a tee for Andujar, he will drive it a long way. His 19th long ball of the year evened the score and padded his case for Rookie of the Year.
The Bombers couldn’t muster much against Faria until the bottom of the fourth. With two on and one out, the Rays lifted the 25-year-old in favor of the veteran Chaz Roe. He promptly issued a free pass to Walker to load the bases with Austin Romine at the plate. Unfortunately Romine struck out looking, bringing Ronald Torreyes up. He connected on a dribbler to third base, and was called safe at first base to score a run. Replay, however, overturned the play. The Yankees made a lot of noise and didn’t have anything to show for it. That was the story of the game in a nutshell.
While the Rays’ bullpen stifled the Yankees the rest of the way, Diego Castillo tried to make things interesting in the ninth. Four straight pitches out of the zone to Walker put a runner on first base. Although Romine and Torreyes both quickly grounded out, Brett Gardner drew a two-out walk, bringing Giancarlo Stanton up. The Yankees designated hitter made good contact on a ball deep to right field, but it stayed in the park for a game-ending fly ball.
The series wraps up tomorrow afternoon, when Blake Snell goes up against Masahiro Tanaka. There are still seats available, if you’re interested in seeing the game in person. You can purchase your tickets through StubHub by clicking here.