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Yankees 3, Rays 2: Greene finds the fault in our stars

With Joe Maddon tweets!

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pitching is such an unnatural motion
pitching is such an unnatural motion
Jeff Griffith-USA TODAY Sports

Here's the thing about curses and superstition: they are 100% real. Let's get that out of the way. If you don't agree with me you're already wrong. Tide goes in, tide comes out. You can't explain that.

But curses cannot be explained by natural law, and (perhaps most importantly) should not even be attempted to be explained. Superstitions follow Wile E. Coyote logic. If you don't look down after you fall off the mountain you will continue to run until you make it across the gorge. If you don't stop to look at the painting on the side of the cliff, you will run straight through it as though it really were a tunnel. If you fall down and you don't bother to think about hitting the ground, you'll forget to fall and start flying. That last one's from a book, and if you recognize it you're a dumb nerd who's ruining the game of baseball with your stats and your analysis for people like me who just want to relax in front of a fire with a newspaper and a sizzling hot take.

We tempted the baseball gods (which, as we all know, assume the form of luck dragons whenever they enter this temporal plane) and 'twas our hubris that sent the Rays to a 3-2 loss to the hated team for NY and their champion Derek Jeter, who has learned in his decades of life to harness the power of the luck dragons and use it when it is most needed. To those who blame Danny: It is not Danny's fault. It is all our faults. It was the fault in our stars (e.g. Longoria, McGee) that led to today's outcome. Okay? Okay.

Innings 1-3

I'm not yet sure what to think about Drew Smyly, and this game sort of exemplifies this uncertainty. In the first inning Smyly absolutely mowed through the Yankees lineup, including getting a popup from Jacoby Ellsbury, who doesn't garner an appropriate amount of respect from MLB Gameday:

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In the bottom of the inning Desmond Jennings picked up a leadoff double on the first pitch of the game, but was left stranded there when the meat of the order was absolutely manhandled by Yankees starter Shane Greene. This would become the general theme of the day. Greene got Zobrist to strikeout on a check swing that Dave and Andy didn't seem to agree with, and got Evan Longoria on pitches that landed in the other batter's box.

Smyly, ever the flyball pitcher, got Teixeira and Beltran to fly out for outs, which prompted Joe Maddon to say some positive things to say about :)

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But despite his slender, nubile hands, Smyly couldn't finish Chase Headley off, and walked him on 9 pitches, and then gave up a home run to Martin Prado. Yankees up 2-0. The Rays would sort of roll over for a while. Vince Belnome was able to coax his first major league walk, and Casali sent a looping line drive to center to put a runner on second with two outs in the third, but Greene, like Zoby and Longo, absolutely wrecked Kiermaier, striking him out on a killer slider.

Smyly set the Yankees down in order in the third, and Greene allowed a infield hit to Ben Zobrist but that was it, and the Rays wouldn't get a runner on base until the sixth inning.

Innings 4-6

These innings pretty much felt like a sand trap. Nothing much was going on, very little offense, great pitching on all sides. It gave Joe Maddon some time to reflect on certain things:

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...no, wait a minute...I'm sorry, this isn't an official Joe Maddon tweet (TM). This actually appears to be one of Kevin Kiermaier's bona fide, non-Photoshopped submissions. Does anyone have a Tweeter account & follow KK on Twitter? His stuff is absolutely golden and are even better because they are 100% real, with not a shred of irony. There are high school Valley Girls who have more coherent tweets than Kiermaier, although none of them can make plays like these:

yeah but if his routes were better he wouldn't have had to leap for it

In the top of the fifth Smyly allowed a two-out hit to Brendan Ryan, breaking his streak of 9 Yankees in a row retired. With Brett Gardner batting, Smyly picked off Ryan on an interesting 1-3-6-1-4 pickle. Smyly now leads the AL in pickoffs with 7.

Smyly once again had a 1-2-3 inning in the sixth. By the bottom of the inning, frustration was mounting. The Rays seemed incapable of laying off pitches in the dirt, and were getting yanked around by Greene. Even unflappable, Joe Maddon was not fazed by the poor offensive outing, instead taking to Twitter to ask some burning questions about baseball:

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Fun Fact: When I went up to Chicago and kept score at one of the Rays' games at Wrigley Field, I realized that I had no idea how to score a double switch, and could barely articulate what one was, at least off of the top of my head. I had to ask a Cubs fan behind me who had spent most of the game telling me about how the Rays are a terrible team because they've only been to one World Series since '08 and even then they just got lucky.

Luckily the Rays finally were able to get on the board in the sixth. Joyce and Longo singled with one out, and James Loney hit a ball that off the bat I thought was a double, but found its way to the glove of the left fielder for an out. In steps Yunel Escobar, who slaps a single to left to score a run. Even though that would be all they got that inning, the Rays, as Staats repeated over and over again, were able to cut the lead in half.

Innings 7-9

I hate this team so much some times, and it's because of innings like this. In the seventh, Smyly came back out and retired the side. In truth, he pitched very well today, leaving after the seventh with 4 K's and 1 fatal walk to Headley. Perhaps most incredibly, between the 3rd and 7th innings, Smyly faced the minimum.

Curt Casali led off the bottom of the inning with a clutch HBP a la Derek Jeter, and Kiermaier hustled out a bunt attempt to reach first base. History was bound to repeat itself as Jennings was once again walking up to the plate during a bunting situation, however, unlike that fateful night in Texas, he put the barrel of the bat on it and moved the runners over successfully. Zobrist grounded out to push the tying run across home. Tied 2-2.

Boxberger came in for the 8th. All Boxberger does it throw strikes. Dellin Betances came in for the 8th. All Dellin Betances does is throw strikes, apparently.

Jake McGee came in for the 9th. He's seemed a little off in recent days, with batters seemingly able to get better swings off of his fastball. Brett Gardner's speed forced an error by Forsythe and put him on second base with no outs. In steps Derek Jeter, to an annoying amount of cheers from the fine Yankee fans at Tropicana. McGee manages to get two strikes past a bunting Jeter, but it wouldn't be enough. Jeter lined a single to right past a diving Forsythe to score the speedy Gardner. Yankees up 3-2. Jake McGee labored a bit afterwards. Although he struck out Ellsbury and Carlos Beltran, he gave up an infield single to Mark Teixeira and pushed his luck with Headley, allowing a loooooooong fly ball out that Kiermaier tracked down fairly easily.

David Robertson did his best Mariano Rivera impression, pumping a tight slider with pinpoint control on the lower-outside part of the plate. Not even a late game appearance from Sean Rodriguez could turn the tide in the Rays' favor.

Tomorrow, the Rays try to meatloaf the series against Hiroki Kuroda behind a resurgent Jeremy Hellickson, who's had success against New York in the past. Maddon took to Twitter after the game, and alternated between wild-eyed rage and sullen introspection. They are real and not made up.

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Curses are real