The New York Yankees had an opportunity to take a series against the AL East division rival Tampa Bay Rays after winning 4-1 on Friday night. Things don't always go as planned, though, and day that started with great optimism concluded with a disparaging amount of pessimism as the Yankees fell to the Rays 9-5. While the loss means the Yankees are now 7-3 in their last 10 games as opposed to a hearty 8-2, the loss cuts them down to 23-25 on the year as they continue to stare up at their rivals in the standings.
Michael Pineda's struggles continued on Saturday as he could not keep his opponents off the basepaths or the scoreboard. The Rays tagged him for nine hits, six earned runs, and a home run in a mere 3.2 innings. The lack of success Saturday continued an omnipresent storyline that has plagued Pineda throughout the season as he has yet to stretch any start beyond six innings pitched and has gone five innings or less five times through his 10 starts in 2016.
Although the Yankees lost, the hot bat of Carlos Beltran couldn't be kept quiet. Over the last 14 days, Beltran has slugged .689, with hit four homers, five doubles, and 15 RBI in 48 plate appearances. On Saturday, it was more of the same as he took Rays left-hander Matt Moore deep in the top of the fourth inning for a solo shot. It was his team-leading 12th homer of the season, and it is becoming clear that his power isn't dissipating with age at all.
The rest of the Yankee bats were held relatively in check even with three-hit days by Austin Romine and Chase Headley. No Yankee had more than two hits as the team amassed 12 on the day, but failed to capitalize in scoring situations, an issue that this team has mired in for what seems like the entire season so far. Starlin Castro's struggles on the road continued Saturday as the second baseman went 0-for-5, lowering his average to .251, and perhaps more importantly, his OBP, which now stands at just .286. The former Chicago Cubs infielder is now hitting just .207 in the month of May after hitting .305 in the month of April.
The Rays were boosted by a familiar face on Saturday as Evan Longoria hit his ninth homer of the season in the second inning. The two-run shot brought him to 24 RBI on the year and the longtime third baseman went 2-for-3 on the afternoon, raising his average to .254 and OBP up to .302.
Hank Conger, though, had perhaps the biggest day at the plate out of any position player. He went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBI in a rare offensive outburst, as he now checks in with a slash of .190/.227/.270 after his performance on Sunday. He picked up two doubles and a home run to account for three of the nine extra base hits that the Rays collected against Yankees pitching at their home dwelling. Logan Morrison, Corey Dickerson and Brad Miller each had doubles, and the aforementioned Miller also scored a triple in the bottom of the second inning.
Matt Moore did a good job for Tampa Bay on Saturday. In 6.2 innings of work, Moore shut the Yankees down for the most part aside from a big inning in the seventh that ultimately led to his departure. The lefty omitted eight hits, three earned runs, issued three walks and fanned seven batters. Alex Colome didn't pick up the save, but still shut the Yankees down after a clean, 1-2-3 ninth inning.
The win for the Rays now sets up a rubber match between the two clubs on Sunday that the Yankees will seek victory from to attempt to salvage an improved month of May. In doing so, the Yankees will send out Nathan Eovaldi who has looked sharp in his last few outings and may be beginning to piece it together. Opposite Eovaldi will be youngster Jake Odorizzi who has struggled of late to eat innings as his last three starts have only amounted to 14 total innings pitched, including back-to-back starts of five innings.