It was all right there for the taking. They battled hard. Blake Snell was solid, going 5 1⁄3 innings, giving up six hits, striking out four and walking two. No, he didn’t have great fastball command, as he often fell behind on first pitches, especially during the middle stretch of his stint. But he left with the lead. It should have been enough.
It wasn’t. Again.
Joe Girardi managed like it was the World Series, pulling his young starter Caleb Smith in the fourth inning, and going to his power arms early (Dellin Betances in the sixth!) Kevin Cash...didn’t. Again. He brought in Tony — er, Sergio Romo to relieve Snell, in the most obvious pinch hit situation imaginable. The inevitable happened. Again.
Let me just get to the details.
Peter Bourjos saw a fastball on the second pitch of Caleb Smith’s
first second Major League start, and hit it out to left center.
The Yankees rallied to tie it in the second on some tough luck for Snell. Gary Sanchez lifted a high pop up toward the right field line. Lucas Duda ran a long way, but in the end it was just perfectly placed. The ball landed fair and bounded into the stands for a double. A soft groundout to third and a medium fly to center later, and the game was tied.
The Rays would get their own dink-and-dunker in the third. Jesus Sucre led off with a single, then was forced at second, allowing Bourjos to reach. Steven Souza Jr. followed with a screaming liner that Gregorius leaped for and nearly made a great catch, but the ball deflected off his glove, allowing Souza to reach and Bourjos to move up to second. It was a very fortunate drop for the Rays, as Bourjos would have been doubled off easily.
Evan Longoria followed with a walk, and the Duda abided for a sacfly to score Bourjos.
Trevor Plouffe was then retired on a nice play by third baseman Todd Frazier to end the threat.
The Yankee tied it up in the fourth when Gary Sanchez worked a long at bat before taking a 3-2 slider out to left. But the Rays bounced right back in the fifth against reliever Adam Warren, when Souza hit a high pop fly homer into the second row beyond the left field fence.
That brings us to the sixth. Blake Snell, pushing 100 pitches, had given up a lead off single to Matt Holliday and retired Didi Gregorius on a fly to left. With the right handed hitting rookie first baseman Garrett Cooper due up, Cash went to Sergio Romo. This despite the fact that doing so practically begged Girardi to pinch hit Ray killer Chase Headley against Romo. So of course that’s what Girardi did. I think he might have even been laughing.
Headley hit the second pitch he saw from Romo into the seats in left center to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Because of course he did.
But give it to the Rays: they were scrappy today. After New York got a rocky but scoreless seventh from reliever Tommy Kahnle, Girardi called on another new acquisition in David Robertson to work the eighth. He was greeted by a monster shot to right by Lucas Duda.
4-4! Tie game!
New arrival Steve Cishek worked a clean seventh for the Rays, striking out the side, and Tommy Hunter set the Yankees down in order in the eighth. That left it in the hands of Brad Boxberger.
You can stop reading now.
Boxy got ahead of Chase Headley 0-2. He ended up walking him on eight pitches.
Ellsbury then pinch ran for Headley, and swiped second easily. But that wasn’t a big deal, because Boxy ended up hitting Todd Frazier anyway.
You can really stop reading now.
On 2-0, Ronald Torreyes squared to bunt. Boxy almost hit him, but it was ruled a strike when he couldn’t pull the bat back. Then on the 2-1 pitch, Torreyes bunted it way too hard, toward the third base side of the mound. Beckham — who had moved to third earlier in the game — started in, then peeled off to cover the bag. It was a simple pick up and toss to him by Boxy for the force play, which would have gone a long way toward getting the Rays out of a tough spot.
Except Boxy never picked up the ball. It rolled to a stop for a bunt single.
After the game, Boxberger said, “I thought that [Beckham] woulda been there with it being a hard bunt.”
Way to have your teammate’s back, Brad. Especially when this was 100% your fault anyway.
Anyway, you can guess what happened next. Brett Gardner was up, so of course the Yankees were gonna walk it off. It was just a matter of how. In this case, it was a single through the drawn-in infield off new Ray Dan Jennings.
- The Rays had a mini rally in the seventh, when Cash sent up back to back pinch hitters (Mallex Smith for Sucre and Logan Morrison for Bourjos) with one out, and both singled to put runners on the corners. But in spite of the fact that LoMo was hobbling terribly, and just as obviously wasn’t going to stay in and catch anyway, Cash didn’t send in a pinch runner (in this case, Austin Pruitt) until after Souza struck out for the second out. Now, the non-move didn’t cost us anything in the long run. But it certainly could have. That’s just bad managing.
- Some fun stuff happened in the top of the ninth that ended up not mattering. After Wilson Ramos reached on catchers interference, he was forced at second on a great play by Torreyes. There was just one problem. Would you rather have Ramos on second or Souza on first? Especially with two outs? The baseball gods handed down a quick verdict when Chapman picked off Souza, but Stevie scampered into second anyway, then went on to third when the ball got away from Gregorius. Sadly, Evan Longoria couldn’t quite line up Chapman’s 100+ heat, and he was left there, because baseball is a cruel mistress.
- The Rays look to get swept some time tomorrow afternoon I guess. I dunno. Screw it.