This will likely go down as a lost year for the Yankees. For most of the season they've fielded an unimaginably bad lineup for a team with their resources. Tonight was different. Tonight their batting order actually resembled the Yankees (Bronx variety, not Staten Island). And rookie of the year candidate Chris Archer held them to two runs and only six baserunners in seven innings. He gave up four hits (one a triple), and two walks while striking out four Yankee batsman. He threw 69 fastballs, 39 sliders, and one lonely changeup. Sure he was the beneficiary of a few line drives hit to fielders, but still, it's the Yankees, and it's a WHIP under one. Not bad for a two-pitch rookie.
The seasoned veteran on the other side, Hiroki Kuroda, fared much worse. Although he was able to complete six innings, the Rays offense exploded for nine hits (one walk, three strikeouts), including four home runs.
Brett Gardner got on board in the first at bat of the game when he took six straight pitches to walk in a full count. Archer failed to hold him on the base, and Gardner easily stole first without a throw. He tagged up and advanced to third on a Curtis Granderson fly out to center field, and then scored when Alfonso Soriano managed to stay inside the ball and knock it down the first base line against the shift. Despite giving up the run, Archer did strike out both Robinson Cano and Alex Rodriguez in the inning with nasty sliders.
Matt Joyce got on base to start the Rays half of the second inning with a soft liner the other way over A-Rod's head. Kelly Johnson also got on with a liner up the middle, to set the table for slugger Jose Lobaton. Lobes jumped all over the first pitch, a hanging slider in the bottom half of the zone, and bounced it off the right field foul pole in a hurry to give the Rays a 3-1 lead.
In the top of the third inning, Archer put Gardner on base once more, this time by hitting him in the hand. The inning ended however, when Gardner took off for second and Granderson hit a liner to right field that looked like it might drop. Joyce made a shoestring grab, though, and easily doubled Gardner off first.
In the bottom of the inning, with two outs, Longoria and Joyce went back to back to make the lead 5-1 Longo pulled his hands in and muscled a frontdoor slider over the left field wall, and Joyce just teed off on a fastball over the plate.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, David DeJesus golfed a splitter into the rightfield alley. Ichiro covered a lot of ground but couldn't quite make the catch, and it got past him to the wall. Unfortunately, DeJesus was so overwhelmed by the joy of his first hit as a Ray that he fell rounding first base, and turned an easy triple into a double. But he's a good baserunner, we swear! He made up for it by scoring standing up on a Jose Lobaton single. Kiroda was struggling, but he got out of the inning when Desmond Jennings lined to second and Lobaton was doubled off second base. The Rays may have missed their chance in this inning to knock Kuroda out of the game and soften up the New York 'pen for the rest of the series. Kiroda's respite was only temporary, though, as Zobrist homered to right to start off the bottom of the fifth.
In the seventh inning, Joe Maddon, Jim Hickey, and Archer found themselves in an awkward position. Archer had pitched well, but he was over 100 pitches and seemed to be tiring. His fastball was missing the plate, and his slider wasn't getting to it. With two outs, the Rays didn't want to lift him from the game, but Archer was struggling to get the third out. With two men on base, Chris Stewart hit a hard fliner to the left field wall. It looked like a two RBI double for sure, but David DeJesus took the opportunity to show why he's here. He ranged far back and to his left and snagged the ball out of the air, crashing into the wall but bouncing off, obviously excited. I think DeJesus is every bit as happy to be in Tampa Bay as we are to have him.
Some other notes:
- In the second inning, Yunel Escobar charged a chopped grounder off the bat of the speedy Eduardo Nunez. He barehanded and threw, all in one motion, and got Nunez at first by half a step. A ridiculous play that anyone who's watched this year knew he was going to make. He made a similar barehanded pickup later in the game to get the much less speedy Alex Rodriguez.
- There was a strange sequence in the bottom of the second where it seemed like James Loney was confused by the signs. He and Tom Foley had to get together to sort it out. After their chat, Joyce, at first base, went in motion while Loney tried to bunt in a 2-1 count (against a right handed pitcher), sending it foul. None of that makes much sense. Loney eventually worked a long at bat before flying out to left field.
- In the top of the eighth, Brett Gardner got aboard via a bloop, but Jamey Wright immediately picked him off first with a beautiful move, even before he came set.
- Some of you will doubtless be happy to know that the "Roberto Hernandez Experiment" (man do I hate that term) has come to an end. After providing over 130 innings of 3.50 xFIP starting pitching, Hernandez has now official joined the bullpen. He worked a one-two-three ninth inning, producing three groundouts. He didn't gain anything on his velocity (it was in the low 90s) in this outing, but if he can adapt to the rhythms of being a reliever, he will be successful working his sinker/changeup combo to hitters on both sides of the plate. With Matt Moore apt to return soon, the bullpen just got stronger.
More from DRaysBay:
- Series Preview: New York Yankees
- The Rays lineup with Delmon Young and David DeJesus
- What would David Dejesus bring the Rays?
- State of the Bullpen