I’m not going to soft-pedal tonight’s loss. The Rays didn’t get blown out, losing by just one run. But they were defeated in a most frustrating fashion. And perhaps most troubling, starting pitcher Tyler Glasnow made an early departure, calling for the trainer in the 6th inning and reporting “forearm tightness” that will be further diagnosed on Saturday.
Pre-injury, Glasnow was once again quite good. He maybe didn’t have the great sharpness of some of his very dominant starts, but a line of five hits, three earned runs, two walks and nine strikeouts in 5.1 isn’t bad at all (and two of those runs scored after he’d left the game). He gave up practically no hard contact.
But the Rays were sloppy on defense. The leadoff batter of the game got on base courtesy of a Yandy Diaz error. And then wouldn’t you know that the absence of both our major league catchers would come to play sooner rather than later. With bases loaded, Nick Ciuffo whiffed on a very high Glasnow fastball (looked like he was set up for something lower) which then skipped past home plate; Ciuffo tossed to a covering Glasnow but threw wildly and a run scored. A second run scored on a single that would have been an easy ground out had Choi not been drawn in to protect against a bunt, and the Yankees were up 2-0. And as if all that were not discouraging enough, Glasnow had tried charging said ball and came up limping; the trainer checked him out however and he remained in the game.
For several innings thereafter the Yankees were held at bay, and things even looked up for the Rays, who scored three runs in the fifth on a double and a pair of homeruns:
*whispers* Austin Meadows is back— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) May 11, 2019
*also whispers* don't high-five his right hand too hard pic.twitter.com/F7okf3dVwX
That will do .... Austin Meadows with a HR, welcome back, and it's a 2-2 game for the #Rays— Neil Solondz (@neilsolondz) May 11, 2019
Ji-Man leveled this one.— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) May 11, 2019
107.8 off the bat. #Rays lead 3-2 pic.twitter.com/ZWppZfENxW
I’ve heard some people express surprise that Austin Meadows was not sent for a rehab stint following his wrist injury, and wonder whether he’d be ready to step up against major league pitching after his absence. His double and home run should put that concern to rest.
But the lead was short-lived as the Yankees scored twice in the top of the sixth, one of the more frustrating half innings of the season for several reasons. For starters, a Yankee high, high left side pop up hit that A ring, and Willy Adames was not able to track it’s movement, coming close but failing to snag it on the way down. The next hitter managed a soft blooper into shallow right-center field, a ball that was just beyond the range of Kevin Kiermaier. Things looked better when Glasnow struck out the next batter looking on a wicked curve. But then this happened:
#Rays pitcher Tyler Glasnow is one of the most emotional players on the roster. He struts and shows emotion after every strikeout.— Josh Tolentino (@JCTSports) May 11, 2019
This is how Glasnow reacted to his final K of the night, moments before he removed himself from the game. pic.twitter.com/M9SJs9fm2B
After that pitch, Glasnow signaled to the dugout; Cash and the trainer came out and Glasnow left the game. The later report was “forearm tightness” which baseball fans all know can mean anything from a few missed starts to a trip to Gulf Breeze, Florida where Dr. Jim Andrews repairs UCLs. Without a doubt, his slow walk off the mound was the most troubling development of the game.
It still would have been nice, however, to hold that lead! Emilio Pagan, who has been so flawless for the Rays, was unable to do so. He did get what seemed to be a well placed double play ball, but Adames had been shifted over and struggled to get into the shortstop hole to field it. He could not get a handle on it and not only was there no double play, but there was no out at all. Even then, Pagan seemed to be up to the challenge, as he got two strikes on ugly swings by Gio Urshela, but the Yankee third baseman nonetheless came through with a two run single.
The Rays still had scoring opportunities. In the bottom of the seventh they loaded the bases with no outs. That brought up Tommy Pham, seemingly the right man in the right place at the right time. But Pham struck out, uncharacteristically lunging at a pitch out of the zone. Ji-Man Choi hit into a rather bizarre double play, a liner deflecting off the Yankee pitcher and then played by the second baseman. The Rays had baserunners each of the last two innings but were never able to bring them home. Indeed, with eight hits and four walks, the Rays were not short of scoring opportunities, they just failed to capitalize on them.
This was, all in all, a very dispiriting game. Apart from the Choi and Meadows home runs, there was little reason for excitement. Certainly the luck dragons were breathing hard tonight — Yankee hits on A ring popups for example, but you also make your own luck.
Brandon Lowe, we love you, but striking out in 8 straight at bats (not all tonight of course) is not a good look. Tommy Pham, you’ve been a champ, but we really needed you to exhibit your patented plate discipline tonight – bases loaded and no outs in a one run game is not the time to expand that zone. Willie, you had two plays in the sixth that were tough, I know, but managing to convert either the A-ring popup or the later ground ball into an out would have changed the course of that inning.