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Yankees 7, Rays 8: Six-run lead vanishes, division deficit reaches 10

A 6-0 advantage with Gerrit Cole on the hill should have been money in the bank. Instead, MLB’s best team dealt last-place New York a crushing blow.

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

Another stinker. Let’s get through it.

The Yankees got out ahead early, with multiple guys contributing to the 6-0 lead. Gerrit Cole wore down, the club blew a golden chance to score in extra innings, and the Rays didn’t waste their chance. All three games this weekend were games of inches, but the Yankees just couldn’t pull enough of those inches together.

It’s not hard to see how Harrison Bader has become such a fan favorite. He made a major impact in all three games in this series, finishing today’s game a double shy of the Yankees’ first cycle in 14 years. His two-run shot in the third inning followed up Anthony Rizzo’s solo bomb, but perhaps his most exciting moment came on a triple to open the fifth inning:

That wasn’t the only hype moment for the Yankee offense, though. After a week or so of extremely blah performances, the lineup pounded out runs throughout the game from the usual suspects — the aforementioned Rizzo home run and a strong game from Gleyber Torres — but we also saw something we haven’t seen all year, Aaron Hicks delivering an extra base hit.

We’ve all voiced how exasperated we are with Hicks, but I still want him to be productive and a useful member of the team. For today, he was, with the double and a walk. I don’t need Hicks to be a star, I need him to not be a cause of grinding my teeth in a game, so he did his job for nine innings today (more on the 10th later).

As to Gerrit Cole, well ... normally I would say that one bad inning can’t really define a start, but one bad inning made this a bad start. Cole cruised through the first four-plus, although he did only strike out four before Jose Siri broke his homerless streak. Siri went deep to center, snapping Cole’s streak at 51 innings without a long ball, and getting the Rays on the board. And here our troubles began.

This isn’t really Cole’s fault, if Oswaldo Cabrera can up with that ball, Yandy Díaz is out by quite a bit. Cabrera couldn’t come up it, Díaz came home and the rally continued. Cole did manage to strike out the next two Rays he faced, but we could see that the Rays were starting to catch on to his stuff.

More of this came in the sixth, where back-to-back doubles plated another run for Tampa. Maybe this was the time to pull Cole; maybe not. We’ve seen how good he is when on and we’ve seen how much he fights to be left in games, but the Rays were putting together good swing after good swing. Christian Bethancourt had perhaps the best swing of them all to tie the game.

That ended Cole’s day, although Jimmy Cordero allowed Siri to come around and score before the end of the inning on a brutal gaffe where he didn’t check Siri back to third base on a grounder. That put the Rays ahead, 7-6.

Fortunately we have Harrison Bader, who singled, moved to third on Cabrera’s automatic double that bounced over the fence in foul territory, and scored the tying run on Jose Trevino’s groundout. Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, and Michael King did a good job locking down the final three innings, sending us to extras.

Manfred Man Aaron Hicks — y’know how I said he didn’t do anything to make me grind my teeth? I wrote that before extra innings, that is, before this happened:


In the bottom half, Albert Abreu allowed an opposite field single to Isaac Paredes for the walk-off loss that essentially felt inevitable at that point.

I genuinely don’t know if the Rays are better than the Yankees when it comes to actual, raw talent. I do know that six weeks into the season, the Yankees can’t stop getting in their own way and they’re now 10 games behind Tampa Bay. Free outs hurt you against any team, but especially one as good as the Rays. Yes, this was a series of one-run games, where if you had Aaron Judge and a real starting rotation maybe things would be different.

Or maybe, if you had Aaron Judge and a real starting rotation this team would still get in its own way.

The Yankees will attempt to not embarrass themselves further when they welcome the lowly A’s to the Bronx for three games beginning tomorrow night at 7:05pm ET with Nestor Cortes facing former teammate JP Sears. I make no promises.

Box Score