The Yankees went from almost getting no-hit by Erasmo Ramirez on Monday night to just not getting enough hits last night. That's progress, depending on how you want to look at the situation, but when that low hits count only lead to 3 runs and you're working with the C-level pitching squad, you probably aren't going to win the game. The Yankees didn't.
The sad thing was that 2 of the 3 hits the Yanks got off Tampa starter Jake Odorizzi were home runs and both of them gave the team a lead. Alex Rodriguez embarrassed Odorizzi by crushing a 1-0 fastball the other way for a solo homer in the top of the 1st to make it 1-0 Yanks, and Greg Bird bested Odorizzi in a tough battle to drive in A-Rod with a 2-run bomb to dead center in the 4th to make it 3-2 Yanks. It was a great at-bat by Bird. Went 2-0, 2-2, and then fouled off a series of fastballs at 3-2. Odorizzi threw 9 fastballs in the at-bat. He made it clear what he was trying to do. He missed his spot with the 10th one and Bird launched a shot that went over the high wall in center field.
The pitching staff couldn't hold either lead. Adam Warren, starting on a 70-pitch limit, got burned by bad BIP luck in the bottom of the 1st and burned by bad defense in the 2nd when Brian McCann threw a ball away at third trying to throw out a base stealer. Those innings ran up his pitch count and gave Tampa 2 early runs. Warren settled in after the 2nd and worked the next 2 innings in order, but Joe cut him off at 65 pitches and went to work with his bullpen.
As it turns out, asking the back end of the 'pen to get 6+ outs in an important 1-run game isn't a winning strategy. James Pazos got only 1 before putting 2 runners on in the 5th and Nick Rumbelow came in to bail him out with 2 strikeouts. Joe tried to get 3 more from Rumbelow in the 6th and that was too many to ask for. Logan Forsythe singled to lead off the inning and up came Nick Franklin, who was a mid-game sub off the bench after Asdrubal Cabrera left with an injury. Rumbelow started Franklin off with a changeup for a ball, then went back to the changeup 1-1 and hung it belt high. It almost would have been better if he literally put it on a tee and had Franklin hit it. Franklin smacked it out to deep right for a go-ahead and eventual game-winning home run.
Not that the Rays wouldn't tack on some big insurance runs late. Bryan Mitchell got 2 outs and gave up 2 base hits in the 8th, and the night of good BABIP luck for the Rays continued. J.P. Arencibia blooped a first-pitch fastball into right field just perfectly enough so that Rico Noel couldn't make a diving catch. The ball scooted away from him after the dive and Kevin Kiermaier came around to score from first base. Brutal.
And more so when you think about all the well-struck line drive outs the Yankees made all night. Loud outs in every inning, at least 1 runner on base in the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, and they could never catch a break. Really frustrating night for the Yankee hitters. It wasn't like they got overwhelmed by Tampa's pitching. Baseball can be cruel sometimes.
- I thought Warren actually looked pretty good in his first start since June. He struck out 4 and didn't walk a batter in his 4 innings, and if a few of those bloops go his way he probably would have had another 15 or so pitches to work with for the 5th inning.
- The Jacoby Ellsbury 0-fer watch continues. He's up to 0-25 now and that includes a sac bunt in the top of the 5th that ended up leading to nothing. The 8-9 hitters get on base to set up the top of the order, and your leadoff guy is sac bunting. That's pathetic.
- Chasen Shreve came on to clean up Rumbelow's mess in the 6th and looked as good as he has in weeks. Got 3 clean outs, struck a batter out, had much better command of his stuff.
- Brian McCann bunted for an infield single to beat the shift in the top of the 6th and basically made Al Leither's year. Leiter's reaction, over the top as it was, was legitimately funny and entertaining. Normally he's pretty terrible, but that was good stuff.
- Mitchell has really been having a tough time since coming back from his beaning. He's given up 7 earned runs on 8 hits and 5 walks over 2.0 total innings pitched in his 4 September appearances.