With the Yankees looking to salvage a series split and the Rays eager to notch their third straight win, New York and Tampa Bay met tonight in Florida in the final game of their four game stand. The Rays turned to young starter Erasmo Ramirez to face Chase Whitley, and unfortunately for Yankees hitters, Ramirez was lights out tonight. While he had mixed success over the course of three partial seasons with the Mariners, and has had little luck this year in the AL East, he certainly shut the Yankees down tonight, mixing his fastball and changeup with success and keeping the Yankees hitters off balance all evening.
Whitley got off to a bad start – surrendering a run in the first – and things got even worse after that for Whitley, but not in the way many of us expected. Whitley struggled with his command early, and in the second inning after issuing a pair of walks, Joe Girardi and Brian McCann saw Whitley feeling some discomfort in his elbow. Girardi wasted no time taking Whitley out of the game. Hopefully Whitley’s injury will end up being a minor one, as this team can hardly afford any pitching injuries as it is.
After Whitley departed, Girardi turned to Esmil Rogers to pick up the slack, and on the first pitch to Rene Rivera – that would be the Rays' catcher and number nine hitter, who happens to be hitting .126/.178/.200 this year – hit a three-run bomb out to dead centerfield, scoring Asdrubal Cabrera and Joey Butler. In the fourth, Rivera came through again for the Rays, driving in his fourth run of the game on a single to shallow center. David DeJesus, who had singled earlier in the inning and moved to third on a Butler single, came around to score, giving the Rays a 4-0 lead.
Matt Andriese relieved Ramirez in the top of the sixth, and the Yankees immediately got their best chance of the game against him. After two quick strikeouts of Jose Pirela and Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner singled to left and then Alex Rodriguez singled as well, giving the Yankees runners at the corners with Mark Teixeira at the plate. Teixeira unfortunately grounded out to first, ending the inning and squandering a good chance for the Yankees to get back in the game.
The Rays tacked on another run in the seventh off Chasen Shreve and looked to be well on their way to a shutout, as they took a 6-0 lead into the top of the ninth. But Alex Rodriguez (because he hates fun) had other ideas, leading off the inning with a rocket of an opposite field homer that finally put the Yankees on the board. However, that would be all the Yankees could muster, as they lost 6-1, meaning that what was once a red hot Yankee team now finds itself dealing with a three-game losing streak.
The Yankees will travel to Kansas City tomorrow, where Michael Pineda will try to get New York on track against Chris Young.