The entirety of the game happened in the first four batters as Jordan Montgomery melted down en route to a 5-2 loss at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays.
It got late very early at Yankee Stadium. Manuel Margot opened the game with a double, scoring almost immediately on a home run by Randy Arozarena. An Austin Meadows single and a Mike Brosseau home run later, and the Yankees were down by four runs before half the fanbase was able to tune into the game. Willy Adames followed that up with a double, and although Montgomery got Joey Wendle and Hunter Renfroe, a catcher’s interference and a walk loaded the bases, ending his night. With one pitch, Nick Nelson induced a flyout by Margot, and the top of the first inning thankfully came to a close.
In line with recent performances, the Yankees’ offense floundered for much of the game. The team’s first hit did not come until the fourth inning, courtesy of a double by Gio Urshela that put runners on second and third with one out, while the second hit was an infield single against the shift by Brett Gardner.
The first real signs of life from the Yankees offense came in the bottom of the sixth, in which, Clint Frazier ended the shutout bouncing a home run off the left field foul pole.
Urshela followed it up with his second hit of the day, and a walk by Gary Sanchez put runners on first and second, but a strikeout by Mike Tauchman and a groundout by Gardner ended the threat.
They would finally do some damage in the ninth. After a one-out single by Gary Sanchez, Brett Gardner reached on a fielders’ choice, and Mike Ford, pinch hitting for Tyler Wade, put runners on first and second with a walk. DJ LeMahieu then singled to drive in Gardner, bringing the score to 5-2. It would prove to be too little too late, however, as Luke Voit hit a hard ground out to shortstop to end the game.
The sole silver lining on the day would be the performance by the Yankees bullpen. Tasked with a labor worthy of Hercules, they largely shut down the Rays lineup for 8.1 innings. Nick Nelson, Jonathan Holder, Ben Heller, Luis Cessa, Adam Ottavino, and Chad Green combined to strike out nine batters, giving up three hits and walking four (three by Nelson). Collectively, they kept the Yankees in the game, and forced the Rays to use a parade of relievers of their own.
Outside of the regularly-scheduled baseball game, two incidents to note occurred during the game. In the bottom of the first, the game was delayed as a drone was seen flying over the field. The drone’s owner later posted footage on Twitter; it has since been taken down, since flying a drone over the stadium during an event is a federal crime. Then, in the fifth inning, Ben Heller as ejected after accidentally plunking Hunter Renfroe with a pitch.
Yankees reliever Ben Heller has been ejected for hitting Rays right fielder Hunter Renfroe pic.twitter.com/W1xU9WrJ7W— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) September 3, 2020
Clearly, Heller, who is barely holding onto a major-league spot as it is, would not run the risk of an ejection by intentionally throwing at Renfroe and put the Yankees’ bullpen in an even worse spot than it already was. The umpires, however, clearly felt that they could not take the risk of the game devolving into chaos due to the bad blood between the teams.
Jordan Montgomery gets tagged with the loss, and is now 2-2 on the season, while John Curtiss gets credit with the win and improves to 2-0. With that, the Yankees fall to 20-15, and are now 4.5 places behind the Rays in the division race. Fortunately, this will be the last time the two squads face each other for the season.
Tomorrow was originally supposed to be an off-day before a trip to Baltimore for a doubleheader, but instead the Yankees will be playing the Mets to make up one of the games lost due to the Mets’ positive COVID-19 tests. J.A. Happ is expected to get the ball for the Yankees, while Robert Gsellman will go for the Mets; first pitch is scheduled for 4:10.
You’ll be forgiven for wanting to forget this game; I certainly do. Hopefully, tomorrow’s matchup with the Mets will go a lot better than the last few days have.