On a day when the Yankees were tasked with a big game, most Yankees came up small this afternoon in the Bronx. Starter Jordan Montgomery was battered around to the tune of seven well-earned runs allowed, and the Bombers’ bats managed only four hits off of five Tampa Bay pitchers. The game was an unmerciful beating at the hands a team that is simply on a different level than the Yankees.
I noted in the game thread earlier today that this Yankee team absolutely refuses to make anything easy, on themselves or us fans. They proved me right pretty quickly in the first inning when Montgomery issued a leadoff walk to Randy Arozarena, which was followed by a single off the bat of rookie phenom Wander Franco. The fact that Montgomery had already thrown 13 pitches to two batters made the bad start seem even more ominous.
After inducing a popup from Nelson Cruz, and getting some help from left fielder Joey Gallo, who made a great diving play on a Yandy Díaz liner, it appeared that Montgomery might escape the jam. Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe was having none of that and sent a screaming liner 110.9 mph off the bat over the right-field wall. When the ball landed safely in the hands of a fan, the Rays led 3-0.
As I also noted in the game thread earlier, Rays starter Shane Baz has a fastball that rides, which is great for him if the ball is up in the zone. If it’s middle or down in the zone, it can look like it’s on a tee to batters. It certainly must’ve looked like it was on a tee to Anthony Rizzo when he took a middle-of-the-zone Baz fastball and sent it 428 feet from home plate and into the second deck in right field. With that, the Yankees were on the board, but still trailed 3-1.
The optimism didn’t last long as Jordan Montgomery jumped from the frying pan into the fire, and may have been handling kerosene first. Brandon Lowe hit another three-run home run after a Franco single and a walk to Díaz, making the score 6-1 Tampa Bay. The Rays, who never seem to miss an opportunity to twist the knife, began to pile on when Mike Zunino followed Lowe’s home run with one of his own, and right fielder Manuel Margot followed with a drive of his own, this one a two-bagger. Montgomery and reliever Lucas Luetge were able to strand Margot, but the damage had been done to the tune of a four-run inning and a 7-1 deficit for the Yankees.
The Yankees weren’t ready to raise the white flag — yet. After a shift-beating infield single from Gallo, Gio Urshela lined a triple down the right-field line, scoring Gallo. If you’re wondering how a player with Gio’s (lack of) speed could triple, the ball was misplayed by Arozarena, but the official scorer somehow found that irrelevant. Regardless, the Yankees had cut the Rays’ lead to 7-2 heading into the fifth inning.
The comparatively minuscule five-run deficit didn’t last. The Rays added a tack-on run in the sixth inning and blew things open with a four-run seventh inning that included Brandon Lowe’s third homer of the day. That assault gave us our ugly final score of 12-2.
When the game ended, Yankees’ fans were in the unenviable position of rooting for the Orioles, Nationals, and Angels for the rest of their Saturday afternoon and evenings. Regardless of how those games turn out, the Yanks and Rays are at it again tomorrow afternoon at the stadium. First pitch will be at 3:05pm ET as Michael Wacha faces a yet-to-be-announced starter. The Yankees could turn to Gerrit Cole on three days’ rest, though in even the worst-case scenario where they lose tomorrow and other teams win out, there would be a tiebreaker on Monday that Cole could pitch on full rest.
We can’t call it a day without acknowledging that during the game, Yankees announcer Ken Singleton announced his retirement from broadcasting; tomorrow will be his last day. Anyone who saw Kenny play can tell you that he was criminally underrated as a player (he was a bad man), and we all know what a knowledgeable and likable announcer he’s been for the Yankees. He certainly will be missed, and we wish him the best.