Tonight, Masahiro Tanaka auditioned to be the Wild Card starter. He didn’t do himself any favors, and it’s safe to say that he did not win the job. Unfortunately, the offense was not able to pick him up either. They did make a valiant effort in the ninth, but ended up coming one run short of an incredible comeback.
After facing him nearly a dozen times this year, the Bombers finally got to opener Ryne Stanek. After Andrew McCutchen singled, Giancarlo Stanton worked a two-out walk, and Neil Walker hit a bomb to center field. Tanaka was gifted with a three-run lead before he even took the mound, and he immediately gave the runs right back to Tampa Bay. Two singles and a walk put a run on the board. Then C.J. Cron tapped a ball back to Tanaka. Looking for the double play, he spun to throw to second base, but ended up launching it into center field. Another run scored on that play before Kevin Kiermaier was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Willy Adames knocked an RBI to tie up the game. Tanaka notched two strikeouts to finally end the inning, forty minutes later.
Tanaka worked a 1-2-3 inning in the second, but gave the Rays the lead in the third after Tommy Pham hit a leadoff home run. He made it through the fourth without incident, but was pulled after surrendering a leadoff hit to Jake Bauers. The bullpen got to work early, and they were great through the seventh. Jonathan Holder, Chad Green, and Aroldis Chapman each tossed a clean inning. That was where the good relief appearances ended, as David Robertson was knocked around for three runs, and a fourth run scored on a Justus Sheffield throwing error to make it an 8-3 game.
The Yankees had a chance to get back into the game in the fifth. With one out, McCutchen walked and Aaron Judge singled to bring Luke Voit to the plate. The first baseman hit a single through the gap in left. McCutchen should have scored from second on the play, but instead he ran back to second, hesitated, and had to stop at third. That left the Yankees with a one-out, bases loaded situation. Predictably, they weren’t able to capitalize as Stanton knocked into a double play.
I know that the Rays’ thing is bullpening, but they were getting too cute with it in this game. They used three different relievers in the sixth inning. They used three more in the eighth, including Vidal Nuno who plunked Walker in the shin on the first pitch and was promptly removed from the game. You know what, though? It worked for the majority of the game.
In the ninth, the bats finally woke up and the Yankees started their rally. Gary Sanchez worked a leadoff walk, and Brett Gardner and McCutchen knocked back-to-back singles to load the bases. The Bombers got one run back on a Judge RBI, which brought Voit to the plate. He was so so so so so close to hitting a grand slam. He ripped the ball all the way to the wall in dead center where Mallex Smith was unable to catch it.
Two runs scored on the play, but Voit had to turn around and head back to first as Judge took his time rounding second base ahead of him. Stanton chopped a ball to third base to score another run and the Rays’ lead shrank to just one run. That would be it for the offense though. Tyler Wade hit a fly ball to right for the second out, and Voit made the risky decision to tag up (though he made it safely). Andujar popped up in foul territory for the final out.
This series will wrap up tomorrow at 1:10 ET with CC Sabathia set to take the mound against...some Rays pitcher, presumably. Tampa Bay hasn’t announced that yet.