I'm writing this in a bar that's probably an hour-long subway ride from home. That means I'll need to get the details right in my notes as it happens. It means I'll want to write the recap quickly so I'm not up long past midnight. Basically it means I'll have to act like a real reporter. Except that real reporters don't get beer and wings. Your job is rough, Messrs. Topkin, Chastain, and Mooney.
Jacoby Ellsbury led off by slapping an elevated fastball the other way for a single. Then with Brett Gardner batting, Elssbury stole second, and although Rene Rivera's release was quick and his arm strong, his throw sailed high and wide and into center field, and it gifted Ellsbury third base. The base didn't matter, though, as Mark Texeira proceeded to take an elevated fastball to the right-field wall for a double. Then, Brian McCann worked a 3-1 count and was rewarded with a thigh-high fastball, which he too smoaked for a double, to put the Yankees up 2-0.
The Rays had a chance to answer immediately in the top of the second inning but couldn't take advantage. After an Evan Longoria lineout, James Loney's line drive died before it reached Gardner in left field, and Loney was aboard. Logan Forsythe worked a good at bat before grounding through the hole by first. Next, Kevin Kiermaier got a good look at a couple changeups up and outside before following one down and lining it through the right side to load the bases. Unfortunately, the two batters up were Tim Beckham and Rene Rivera, and a fly ball to short left field followed by a groundball to third ended the threat.
The Rays did pull one back in the top of the third inning. David DeJesus led off and struck out on an absolutely filthy changeup down and away, but Steven Souza showed off on his consistently good eye and worked a six-pitch walk. Asdrubal Cabrera, hitting third, looked totally overmatched, swinging late on both a changeup and a fastball. But then he followed a pitch down to his knees and yanked it to the wall in the right-center alley for an RBI double.
Moral: looking overmatched on a few pitches is not the same thing as being overmatched as a major-league hitter.
With Longoria and Loney up, and only one out, this seemed like a great opportunity to tie the game, but Longoria struck out with a loopy swing on an inside changeup (after swinging through an inside fastbball), and Loney took strike three right down the middle after fouling off two elevated pitches in the zone that he knew he should have done more with.
Moral: the middle of the Rays lineup looked overmatched in this game.
While Odorizzi continued to keep the Yankees silent, the Rays provided another inning of "almost" in the fourth. With one out, Kiermaier took an elevated fastball straight back up the middle and off the top of the center field wall (missing the long homer by about a foot) for a double. KK tried to hard to steal third, and got good jump a few times, but was foiled by foul balls. On the one pitch that was taken for a ball, he was not running. Beckham's eventual groundout advanced KK to third rather than tying the game by bringing him home from third, and Rivera struck out to end the inning.
The top of the fifth inning was only notable for Cabrera laying a beautiful bunt down the third base line for a base hit and Longoria swinging through more elevated pitches that Rays fans surely hoped he would drive.
Then, in the bottom of the fifth, the Yankees extended their lead. With one out, Ellsbury grounded to the left of first base. Forsythe got there with a dive, but the ball clanged off his wrist, and with him on the ground and deep and Ellsbury running, only a clean pickup would have had a chance for the out. Now, with Loney holding the runner on, a weak Gardner grounder found its way through the hole to put runners at the corners. Gardner stole second without a throw, and after Odorizzi struck out Texeira, McCann drove them both home with a liner into center off the end of his bat (on a pitch where Odor once more missed up in the zone).
The last gasp of the Rays offense came in the top of the sixth inning when lefty Chasen Shreve entered the game. Loney managed to work a walk against him before Forsythe grabbed hold of a backdoor slider that caught too much of the plate and sent it into the alley. Forsythe dug for third and made it there with no outs, driving in a run and giving the Rays a great chance to score more, but Shreve struck out Kiermaier, and the Yankees brought in Esmil Rogers, who dominated both Beckham and Rivera with his breaking ball.
In the seventh, Cabrera walked, but Longoria struck out (go ahead, play the broken record) while swinging through a few pitches in the zone that we all hope he could do more with.
I nearly jumped out of my bar stool in the eighth when Kiermaier (representing the tying run with Loney on base) sent a towering fly ball to the warning track in the right-field corner, but it was a couple paces short of the wall and defensive replacement Chris Young had no trouble getting under it.
Some other notes:
- The YES Network radar gun sucks. It misses pitches all the time. Stop being cheap, Yankees.
- I hate teams that think they're better than everyone else because they don't deign to put names on the back of their jerseys. I don't care about your history, and I don't recognize your roll players. And judging by the people in the NY sports bar who I asked, no, Yankees fans don't know who Chasen Shreve is either.
- Desmond Jennings had a lot of fun feeding pigeons from the dugout. I guess that's something you don't get to do much when you play your home games in a dome.
- Chase Whitley kept throwing what looked to me like a 78 mph curve (although the crappy offset camera/beer was playing with my head). That wasn't in the scouting report.
- In case you couldn't tell from the the body of the recap, let me say this again. The heart of the Rays order—both Longoria and Loney— missed a lot of good pitches to hit.
- Yes, I know Loney was on base three times.
- Xavier Cedeno pitched. He pumped in breaking ball after breaking ball to the two lefties he faced (sandwiched around an intentional walk to a righty). They weren't all for strikes, but the Yankees couldn't get anything on them, either. This is what a real LOOGY looks like. Thank you, Silverman.
- I won a shot by helping the bartender and two off-duty bartenders figure out some trivia. What
fourthree (this is why you look things up yourself rather than trusting guys in bars) players have 500 career home runs and ten gold gloves? Can you think of them without looking? Answer in the comments. For bonus, there's one guy with 400+ home runs and ten gold gloves, and one with 500+ home runs but eight gold gloves.
- Either the YES Network sideline reporter is really big, or Brian Cashman is really small. She dwarfed him in an interview. One of the friendly bartenders told me that she was once a very fine softball player from Lehigh, so maybe there's some of both going on.
- A drunk chick asked me if I smoked. When I said that I didn't, she said, "Of course you don't. You have nice teeth." One of the most unexpected nice things a person has said to me in a while. Although, I'm pretty sure I wasn't showing my teeth. Not much to smile about in this game.
- I won another shot by showing the trio of bartenders the FanGraphs leaderboards when they wanted to figure out all of the hitters with at least 1,000 RBIs from the year 2000 through 2010 (yes, I know that's eleven years and not a decade, but there's almost no situation where it's the right call to correct someone on what is and isn't a decade). There are 14 players. Can you name them? Try using the Sporcle Quiz below.
- Also, this setting for writing isn't so bad. Eat your heart out, Topkin.
It seems to me like you should have to earn a rec to show up in the roll call. Agree or disagree?