On a windy day in the Bronx, Joe Maddon only went with a slightly righty lineup against Vidal Nuno, starting Sean Rodriguez in left field and Logan Forsythe at designated hitter, but keeping James Loney in the game.
David Price has been somewhat at his worst in Yankee Stadium, with an ERA above 4.00 in his career at the Bronx. After an eight pitch first, Price needed twenty or more pitches to escape the second, third, and fourth inning. His fastball was touching 95, but Price's stuff didn't seem like it would last longer than five -- which is a shame.
Heading into the series, Rays starters had pitched more than five innings in only four of the last seventeen games, and the Rays were coming off a double header that used Jake McGee and Grant Balfour twice in the same day.
The good news is that Price was challenging hitters with pitches in the zone with decent movement. He would have eight strikeouts on the evening, and according to my memory, all of them swinging. Lots of pitches per frame, but quality work. That's as much as you can ask for against a team where it's a grind through the line up, like New York.
The game would go fourteen innings, hanging on to a thread as Heath Bell fought for the Rays to hold even. Somehow he battened down the hatches, and the Rays were able to tag New York for five runs and take the ball game in the 14th inning.
Sean Rodriguez got the scoring started with a liner to left center field, pulled between the fielders and a double with time to spare. On a pitch that skipped left of the catcher, Rodriguez advanced to third, and James Loney batted one past Jeter for the first run of the ballgame, and the Rays lead.
Brian McCann, tonight's designated hitter, dropped a fly ball just over the wall and into the right field porch for a two-run home run. David answered with swinging strikeouts of the next three batters, including Brian Roberts and Yongarvis Solarte to end the the second.
Evan Longoria also benefited from the breeze in the top of the fourth, knocking a flyball to the warning track that drifted feet behind Jacoby Ellsbury as he searched for it in the sky. Longo legged out a triple, and then scored the tying run on a single by Myers that bounced past that region of the field that Jeter is supposedly able to defend.
Nuno followed the Myers double with two free passes to Sean Rodriguez and James Loney to load the bases on one out, and Logan Forsythe knocked one to the outfield fora sac fly and a 3-2 Rays lead.
Desmond Jennings padded that lead the following inning, hitting his third home run of the season and his second in as many nights on Nuno's 80th pitch. Launched around 400 feet to the Tampa Bay bullpen, the Rays took a 4-2 lead, and the Yankees turned to their own 'pen for help with one out remaining in the fifth.
To start the sixth, Wil Myers had a shift put on to the left side, but the Rookie of the Year hit a line drive to right field. Sean Rodriguez did work again, dropping a beautiful bunt up the third base line and catching all off guard. A flat footed Loney, and a pinch hitting Matt Joyce whiffed and foul tipped for two outs to bring up Yunel Escobar.
From there, towering reliever Dellin Betances upped his velocity to 99 for strike one, got a generous breaking ball strike inside for strike two at 81, then a whiff on a curve cleared the frame.
Thanks to the strikeout work mentioned above, King David entered his share of the sixth on 85 pitches. With one out, Carlos Beltran batted through the shift on an otherwise standard grounder to short, but Price mixed well to Mark Teixeira for his eighth strikeout (again, swinging). Alfonso Soriano followed with a single under an outstretched Longoria glove, but pitch 107 was a tapper to the ranging third baseman, and Price escaped his jam as well.
To save the bullpen, Price returned in the seventh and earned a first pitch line out to Longoria to start the frame, then three pitches later a tapper to third for two outs. On pitch 113, catcher John Ryan Murphy read a breaking ball well and drove it to the wall in left-center for his first double on the season, but pitch 118 was a groundball to Yunel, who fired to Loney and beat the running Ellsbury.
Price had done his job, reaching his highest pitch count on the season thus far.
The Rays would put two on in the top of the seventh, thanks to a Jennings walk and steal that led to Longoria being intentionally walked, then again in the eighth on a Loney HBP in the forearm and a Yunel Escobar chopper to shallow center. Myers flew out to end the threat in the seventh, Molina tapped out to Jeter in the eighth.
Joel Peralta was trusted with the eighth inning, and on two outs he allowed Teixeira to launch into the right field porch, cutting the Rays lead to only one run, then Alfonso Soriano to go pull one far deeper to the left field stands.
Damage done, tie ball game.
Leading off the ninth against Yankee closer David Robertson, the top of the order was due and Ben Zobrist hit sharply up the right field line. Mark Teixeira couldn't field the play, and Zobrist ran through first base without a challenge.
Following a failed bunt by Jennings, Zorilla got a beautiful jump on Robertson's leg lift and swiped second base, but Jennings would strikeout shortly thereafter. It would be Longoria who singled him home, after taking two pitches in the zone and reaching for a base hit to right field, giving Zobrist all day to race home for the 5-4 Rays lead.
With Balfour on much needed rest for the evening, the Rays brought in Brandon Gomes -- no wait, they left Peralta in! With a 2-2 count, the easy out of Brian Roberts singled up the middle, leading the Rays to bring on -- oh, Juan Carlos Oviedo.
The former closer earned a tapper to first to James Loney, who scooped it off a hard chop as it approached the infield dirt, and the training staff had to come examine Oviedo in the effort, even after grimacing as he raced to cover first.
Our old friend Kelly Johnson was released from the dugout with one out and a man on second, and the runner Brian Roberts took off for third base. The Jose Molina throw to Longoria was a rocket, a near perfect throw, but the tag was not clean and the ball escaped the snowcone of his glove. Safe at third. Johnson tapped out to short, but with two outs, a runner in scoring position, and top of the order due, Jacoby Ellsbury would not go quietly.
The Rays stuck with Oviedo, and his first pitch -- a breaking pitch low -- was lined into center field for another tie ball game. Joe Maddon pulled the reliever immediately, this time for Brandon Gomes. With Jeter at the plate, Gomes turned and fired to first instead, and Ellsbury got caught sleeping, with his left leg six inches short of the bag. The initial call was safe, but Maddon challenged and the replay took less than a minute to overturn.
5-5 ballgame, on to extra innings.
Another ace reliever took the mound for New York, with Shawn Kelly starting Rodriguez with a tapper in front of home plate. James Loney singled opposite field, but Matt Joyce couldn't help hitting into a double play on a tapper of his own, and the Yanks would get another chance at winning a hard fought game.
Brandon Gomes came on for his proper turn, and worked three ground outs on eight pitches, starting with a chopper to the feet of Zobrist off the captain, followed by a tapper to the mound from Carlos Beltran, and an easy-to-field bouncer to second by Teixeira.
Both relievers were working efficiently, less than then pitches a piece and working quick outs.
Kelly returned for the New York eleventh and struck out the fucking side. He caught Escobar looking, then David DeJesus (career 2-for-4, HR off Kelly) was brought on to pinch hit for Jose Molina. He guessed off-speed on a B-hack, but it was a fastball outside. Zobrist had the same problem, fanning the heater.
Gomes, not to be outdone, worked a lazy flyball from Alfonso Soriano on three pitches, popped Brian McCann foul on a full count up the right field line, and then nearly had Brian Roberts after an 0-2 count. He knocked a basehit on a pitch high in the zone, and Maddon replaced Gomes with Heath Bell.
The former closer Bell -- I keep telling myself how he used to be excellent -- allowed a looper to left-center from Solarte to put two runners on, and the Yanks pinch hit Ichiro Suzuki in hopes of driving one home. He'd take a curve and a change in the zone before tapping softly to second base.
So many tappers.
In the twelfth inning, the outside corner was unforgiving to Desmond Jennings, who went down on strikes to new reliever Adam Warren. Evan Longoria followed with a 2-2 count of his own, but looped a broken bat single over the short stop.
Wil Myers moved the runner on a groundball to second, but with two outs and a full count S-Rod went down swinging over an 88 slider over the heart of the plate. Heartbreak.
Heath Bell returned for the top of the order, and a high fastball above the zone got chopped slowly to start the frame with an infield hit. Jeter then laid an easy bunt to the mound, but Bell sailed it to center field. The runners hold at first and second, no outs.
Beltran tried a bunt of his own, and a diving Longoria nearly had it in foul territory for a much needed out, but the game trudged on to a bizarre run down.
On a tapper up the middle, Derek Jeter worked his way through a run down after the out at first, back and forth no less than six times before Zobrist gave up and fired to third. Ellsbury would get caught by Ryan Hanigan at catcher, but Jeter worked his way around to third anyway, exhausted.
Two miraculous outs, man still on third for Mark Teixeira, and the 1-1 pitch caught Tex's sleeve. Awarded first base, it was now runners on the corners for Alfonso Soriano, who took a curve ball for strike one. Bell tried the same pitch, and this it was another groundball to second, sending the rivals to another free inning of baseball.
Warren returned for the next frame, and James Loney nearly started things right with a double in the right field corner but the liner was foul. Instead, Loney looped another single into left-center on two strikes. Joe Maddon lifted Loney for a pinch runner in Brandon Guyer -- finally giving him the base running chance I've thought he deserved, and surprisingly lifting the glove of Loney from the line up -- bring Matt Joyce up to bat.
Joyce would bounce one to second base, and Solarte was there to field it. Guyer challenged with his run into second, and the throw was slightly too wild. The umpire ruled Joyce safe at first, declaring Teixeira off the bag. The Yankees challenged the call, and Joyce was declared out on the replay.
Joe Maddon, collected but furious, had nothing but choice words about the ruling. He was immediately ejected for arguing in the slightest, but Maddon stuck around to make his thoughts known in what looked like a professor correcting a student more than an angry neighbor complaining about your dog's shit in his yard.
Yunel Escobar now had bases empty and two out, but still lined a shot into left-center on a mistake of a changeup. Then the clock corssed midnight. Tomorrow's start time is 1:05, against Masahiro Tanaka. This is getting exhausting.
Ryan Hanigan promptly shot a fastball through the right side to put two men on, bringing up Zobrist yet again, but he tapped to second base to end the threat. And I mean tapped. Frequent but soft hitting in this extra inning affair.
In the bottom of the thirteenth, Heath Bell returned -- just as you wished. Brian McCann shot one past the diving Escobar out of the shift, and Roberts went golfing on a changeup to put two on with none out.
Solarte batted a ball to first base for the first out and another run down ensued, but Ben Zobrist was too worried about the runner crossing third to get the second out -- who was Brian McCann running toward second. With two men in scoring position in one out, Davey Martinez (acting as manager) brought a fifth man to the infield in Wil Myers, praying for a ground ball out.
Hangian blocked the first pitch in the dirt, pinch hitter Brett Gardner whiffed on the next, then after watching a change qhisk by, he tapped another up the middle. Sean Rod was the man up the middle, and he fielded the throw to Myers at first base for the second out.
With Ellsbury back in the batters box, the defensive alignment returned to normal, and the Rays took no chances, walking him to load the bases.
Derek Jeter, bases loaded in the fourth extra inning with two outs, and would you believe it was another tapper up the middle? Groundball to the pitcher, and the Rays escaped. How? HOW!
40+ pitches from Heath Bell and the Rays survive to face another frame. You can't predict baseball.
The fourteenth inning: Where dreams are made of -- in other words, most people are sleeping. Chris Leroux took the mound for New York, and walked Desmond Jennings on six pitches. Longoria struck out for the first out on a pitch above the zone. Wil Myers followed and battled a 2-2 count before Desmond Jennings stole second (after seven pick off attempts).
Myers fouled another before tomahawking a fastball above the zone, and the Rays finally -- FINALLY -- scored another and took the lead. He then raced around the base paths four pitches later on a double by Rodriguez.
The following pitch, Brandon Guyer laced a hit past Jeter and Sean Rodriguez turned on the jets. S-Rod dove head first at the plate and just beat the tag with his left hand, surviving the challenge and giving the Rays a three run lead. It was remarkable how quick each replay was conducted in this game.
With one out remaining, Matt Joyce was intentionally walked with one out, but Yunel Escobar lined another into center field, plating Brandon Guyer . Ryan Hanigan followed with his own base hit up the middle -- the Rays 20th hit on the evening -- for a five run lead. Zorilla whiffed for the second out, and Jennings tapped to third to mercifully end it there.
The Rays let Josh Lueke close the door, returning to the mound with 95 MPH velocity.
Heath Bell was awarded the victory.
I was awarded sleep.
The Yankees would go 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position, the Rays 6-for-16 and most of those coming in the 14th.
With two out and one on in the fourteenth, Brian McCann bunted and the Rays broadcasters laughed heartily.
The next game starts in 12 hours.