In a way, it was fitting that the Yankees were thoroughly outclassed at home on this particular night. The offense’s impotence mirrored the front office’s laughable approach to the MLB Trade Deadline, adding just a pair of relievers and doing nothing to address an offense that has placed bottom-five across the board over the last two months. Carlos Rodón had another nightmare, giving up four runs in four innings to put the game out of reach of their pitiful offense as they eventually dropping this one by a score of 5-2.
The trouble started for Rodón in the second, issuing back-to-back one-out walks to Isaac Paredes and Brandon Lowe before a Manny Margot automatic double plated the former for the contest’s first run. Rodón had little trouble pushing counts to two-strikes, but the Rays hitters found it easy to foul of high fastball after high fastball until they either got a pitch to hit or drew a free pass. He was lucky to escape the inning with just one run surrendered, but the same issues would persist in the third, where he would not be so lucky.
Yandy Díaz led off with a home run to double the Rays’ advantage despite Rodón jumping out to a 1-2 count. Harold Ramírez singled with one out followed by a booming Randy Arozarena two-run blast to left, again despite Rodón getting to 1-2 without difficulty. The lefty starter managed to work a scoreless fourth, but after that his night was finished having given up four runs on four hits and four walks with five strikeouts on 97 pitches.
It’s been truly alarming to see the disappearance of swing-and-miss on Rodón’s fastball. Between 2021 and 2022, he owned the sixth-highest whiff rate (28.7 percent) against the four-seamer of any starter with at least 250 four-seamers thrown. This year that’s all the way down to an 18.3-percent whiff rate entering tonight’s contest and is due to decrease even further. The Rays swung 38 times against Rodón’s four-seamer tonight and whiffed just six times (16-percent whiff rate), despite owning the seventh-highest whiff rate as a team in baseball. And before you ask, yes, both home runs came against the four-seamer.
Ian Hamilton came on in relief of Rodón and served up a single to Wander Franco to lead off the fifth. After an Arozarena walk, Lowe singled to right to drive Franco in for the Rays’ fifth run. Hamilton turned it around with a scoreless sixth, after which Albert Abreu worked a scoreless seventh that included a pickoff of Ramírez at first, and Nick Ramirez wrapped things up with a scoreless eighth and ninth.
As for the Yankees offense, there’s precious little to report. Aaron Judge and Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled in the first and second, respectively, while Jake Bauers doubled in the sixth to account for the entirety of the offensive output through eight. The hitters did not work deep counts, instead jumping on pitches in the zone early to no avail. A few balls were hit hard and perhaps were a tad unlucky not to fall for hits but for the most part all they seemed capable of doing was pounding the ball into the dirt.
They saved a final flurry in the ninth to at least give the fans something to cheer about (at least, the few who stuck around). Harrison Bader blooped a pinch-hit double that Arozarena couldn’t quite track down in left and was driven home on a Torres double to avoid the shutout. A Rizzo single put runners on the corners followed by a DJ LeMahieu infield single and Paredes throwing error to plate Torres and put runners on second and third.
In came pinch-hitter Giancarlo Stanton as the tying run, but Rays closer Pete Fairbanks entered to strike him out, sealing the Yankees’ fate at 5-2. They remain alone in the AL East cellar at 55-52, hardly looking like the kind of playoff contender that Brian Cashman dreamed on in an infuriating post-deadline press conference.
The Yankees will look to avoid the sweep tomorrow with Gerrit Cole taking on Shane McClanahan in a showdown of aces. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05 pm ET so be sure to join us in the game thread. Cole starts are just about the only bit of must-see Yankees TV these days.