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Yankees 1, Rays 9: Two out of three ain’t bad

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Yankees bats go cold as Austin Meadows drives in four runs.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night was a complete wash for the Yankees, as Austin Meadows went 3-for-4 with a home run and four runs driven in and Rays starter Rich Hill smoothly shut down the lineup. Tampa Bay successfully avoided a sweep with a 9-1 victory over New York.

Looking to build upon two straight decent starts, Jameson Taillon was the definition of inconsistent tonight. With the first two batters retired in the first, he allowed three straight two-out hits — although, in fairness, the first single off the bat of Manuel Margot had an exit velocity of just 72.1 mph, but happened to fall perfectly in the “No Man’s Land” behind second base. Yandy Díaz cashed in with a two-run single to put the Rays in front. They never looked back.

Taillon proceeded to strike out four straight batters to get himself out of the inning and through the second. Unfortunately, he walked Randy Arozarena to open the third before allowing a two-run home run to Meadows that stretched the Rays’ lead to four.

Taillon proceeded to get through the rest of the third unscathed, sandwiching a double by Díaz in between a flyout to right by Margot and groundouts to second and first by Brandon Lowe and Joey Wendle, respectively. He then sent the Rays down in order in the fourth, striking out Kevan Smith and Brett Phillips in the process.

In the fifth, Taillon struck out Arozarena and Margot, but allowed a double off the right-center field wall to Meadows and walked Lowe on five pitches. At this point, with Taillon having thrown 95 pitches and runners on first and second, Aaron Boone had seen enough, and turned the game over to the bullpen. Michael King struck out Díaz to end the threat.

All in all, Taillon’s line on the night reflects the up-and-down nature of his performance, as he gave up four runs on six hits but somehow managed to record nine strikeouts along the way. He struggled with command throughout the night, allowing Rays hitters to tee off against his mistakes.

Coming into today, King had kept opponents scoreless through 12.1 innings. That perfect run sadly ended in the sixth inning. After walking the leadoff batter (Wendle) and allowing a single to Smith, King struck out Phillips and Mike Brosseau, giving the Yankees hope that might prevent any damage. Arozarena, however, blasted his fourth home run of the season — his third against the Yankees! — 397 feet into the left field seats to make it a 7-0 game. King then got Meadows to strike out to end the inning (and, technically, strike out the side), but the damage was done.

King pitched a scoreless seventh, but the Rays struck again in the eighth, this time with Justin Wilson on the mound. Smith led off the inning by reaching on a catcher’s interference, followed up by a single by Phillips. Brosseau grounded into a fielder’s choice to put runners on the corners. Wilson then walked Arozarena on four pitches to load the bases, and Meadows doubled to right field to score two. Margot popped out to second and Lowe struck out to end the inning with the Yankees down by nine.

The Yankees’ offense could get nothing going against Rays starter Rich Hill, who gave up only three hits in 6.2 innings, striking out nine and walking three. Only once did the Yankees even put together something that vaguely resembled a threat with the 41-year-old southpaw on the rubber, as they had runners on the corners with one out in the sixth thanks to a double by Aaron Judge and a single against the shift by Gary Sánchez. Predictably, however, Mike Ford immediately hit into a 6-6-3 double play to end the inning.

They did not fair much better against the Tampa Bay bullpen, as Louis Head retired all four batters he faced. The ninth inning saw the Yankees finally dent home plate, as Hunter Strickland loaded the bases via an Urshela leadoff single, a Sánchez double, and a Ford walk. They scored but the air was taken out of their unlikely rally when Clint Frazier grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. Miguel Andújar flied out to end the game; he remains hitless.

This game was very forgettable, but hey, at least the team won the series. Hill improved to 2-1 with the win (both have come against New York), Taillon got tagged with the loss and dropped to 1-3. With the loss, the Yankees fell to 20-17 and two games behind in the AL East, while Tampa Bay avoided both a sweep at home and dropping below .500 at 20-19. It was ultimately a successful series, but a dud of a finale.

Fortunately, the Yankees are back in action tomorrow, where Corey Kluber (2-2, 3.06 ERA) will get the ball opposite Dean Kremer (0-3, 6.23 ERA) at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET.

Box Score