Despite Aybar Blast, Rays Lose to Yanks 8-7 in Tenth Inning

ST PETERSBURG FL - SEPTEMBER 14: Infielder Robinson Cano #24 of the New York Yankees rounds the bases after his home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the game at Tropicana Field on September 14 2010 in St. Petersburg Florida. (Photo by J. Meric/Getty Images)

Do these two teams ever play a bad game? I swear, the Rays-Yankees match-ups this season have all featured close, exciting, compelling games - and this series has been no different. For the second night in a row, the Yankees and Rays couldn't decide upon a winner after only nine innings; despite being a very different beast from Monday night's game - one overall run versus fifteen - both games had a few things in common: excitement, heroics, and drama. Both teams are making the playoffs so the pressure on them is off, but that hasn't kept the Rays and Yanks from playing playoff-caliber baseball so far.

This didn't look like it'd be a great game at the onset - Garza did not have his best stuff, which became painfully obvious in the second inning. During that inning, the Yankees jumped out to a 4-0 lead, courtesy of a walk, double, sacrifice fly, single, and homerun. Garza wasn't missing many bats (only six swinging strikes on the day, four strikeouts) and he got touched for two homeruns and nine hits on the day - not a good total for a little less than five innings of work, in case you were curious. He seemed to have trouble throwing strikes, walking two batters and throwing only around 56% strikes. He wasn't horrible, like some of Neimann's recent starts, but he also wasn't at his best.

I was ready to turn the game off when the Yankees jumping out to a 6-0 lead by the fifth inning, but the Rays battled back. In the fifth inning, the Rays scored seven runs to not only tie the Yankees, but push ahead of them by one run. After being unable to put many hits together against Ivan Nova in the early innings, the Rays finally figured him out: they roughed him up for six runs before the fifth inning was finished. Carlos Pena homered. BJ Upton doubled. Evan Longoria drove in a few runs with a single. And Willy Aybar hit a go-ahead, three-run homerun to put the Rays ahead 7-6.

The Rays couldn't hold that lead - Hellickson and McGee gave it up in the following inning and then Wheeler let up a homerun to Posada in extras - but it was still a hard-fought, well-played game. The Rays didn't give up even after falling down by six runs to the Yankees, and they were in a position to score the go-ahead run on several occasions. Shake it off and let's win the one tonight.

  • Jake McGee looked less than impressive in his first major league appearance. walking three, striking out one, and letting up a run in only one-third of an inning. McGee threw almost all fastballs (with two curveballs mixed in) and he had a tough time finding the zone. Could it have been first major league-appearance nerves? Also, he only turned the heat up to 90 MPH, and it's been reported that he hits much higher than that. In the shortterm, I'm willing to consider this was an abnormal performance for him cause by nerves. 
  • Similarly, Jeremy Hellickson is showing us why he belongs in the starting rotation. Two hits and a walk in only one third of an inning? He's looked pretty uncertain coming out of the pen, and it may be that he isn't the sort of pitcher likely to succeed outside the rotation.
  • Garza has now allowed 27 homeruns on the season. That's two more than he let up all of last season (and in around 15 fewer innings) and is within five homeruns of James Shields's total. My vision of Garza the ace is slowly fading away.
  • Carl Crawford - we all love you, but why try to take thirdbase? Why?
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