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Yankees drop series opener to Rays, 5-4

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This might have been the worst loss of the season.

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

James Paxton just can’t escape the first inning without allowing a run.

This time, the uncharacteristic leadoff hitter Travis d’Arnaud took a pitch into the seats to begin the game. Paxton finished with a solid start, though, striking out a total of seven hitters while surrendering two runs in six innings of work. Besides two mistakes, Paxton was able to keep the game close, especially with great defensive plays supporting the southpaw. Aaron Boone came out during the top of the sixth to ask Paxton if he felt okay to stay in the game, and Paxton’s assurance proved to be correct. The left-hander got out of a one-out, two-on jam.

Meanwhile, Blake Snell put his last outing in the Bronx behind him, as he went five innings allowing only one run while striking out four. His pitch total of 93 might cause some debate on whether or not he was taken out too early, but nevertheless, the Rays decided to go to the bullpen to end the sixth inning. This gives Snell identical starts in his two previous outings against the Yankees, going five innings and allowing one home run.

d’Arnaud started things off with a home run against Paxton, but he doesn’t profile as the traditional leadoff hitter. The Rays have taken to using him in this spot when facing left-handed starters, and the move looked like a masterstroke when d’Arnaud homered once again in the third to make the game 2-0. His productive night continued as he drew two more walks following the home runs, proving to be a difficult out for the Yankees. That wouldn’t be the last they saw of him, either.

The Yankees did most of the scoring after the third inning staring with an Edwin Encarnacion home run. The pitch right before to Encarnacion got everyone out of their seats but went slightly foul, this time he made sure he would round the bases, cutting the lead in half. During the bottom of the seventh, Gio Urshela hit his own home run off reliever Emilio Pagan to tie the game 2-2. The score didn’t stay tied for to long as Encarnacion took out the parrot another ride with a two-run home run making it 4-2.

Chad Green came in to work the top of the seventh and eighth bridging the gap to Aroldis Chapman. With tonight’s relief outing, four out of the last six appearances Green has made have all been two innings. It’s clear the Yankees want to keep using Green for multiple innings.

Chapman came into the bottom of the ninth inning and allowed two back-to-back singles to start the inning. Chapman battled back with two swinging strikeouts of Willy Adames and Joey Wendle, looking to face d’Arnaud as his final hitter. Unfortunately, d’Arnaud did it one last time, for his third home run of the night he gives the Rays a 5-4 lead.

Brett Gardner and DJ LeMahieu both grounded out to begin the bottom of the ninth, but Judge made it interesting after working a walk to put the tying run on-base. Luke Voit took multiple borderline pitches for balls as he battled back into the count, but the game ended with a called strike clearly catching enough plate.

This has to be the toughest loss for the Yankees thus far. Instead of extending a seven-game lead against the Rays, everything quickly changed. The Yankees will now enter game two of this four-game set only five games in front of the Tampa Bay. CC Sabathia will take the mound for the Yankees looking to stall any momentum the Rays wish to build after their comeback win.