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Rays 1, Yankees 3: Series-opening stinker

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This pitching staff’s biggest weakness might be its lack of run support!

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays are back home inside of Tropicana Field and are welcoming their division rivals to town, beginning a three-game series. Luis Patiño starts tonight’s game for the Rays against Jordan Montgomery and the Yankees.

Patiño recorded the first two outs of the inning but Aaron Judge refused to be the third out, hitting a 419-foot home run to put New York up 1-0. Patiño struck out Luke Voit to end the inning.

In the top of the third, the Yankees extended their lead to 2-0 thanks to a couple of passes balls by Mike Zunino. The runner who scored, DJ LeMahieu, had made it on base by hitting a single with one out, and he moved up to second when Giancarlo Stanton walked. Stanton was stranded at third to end the inning.

Zunino made up for the run that he allowed by putting that run back on the board, absolutely destroying a baseball and sending it 472 feet to center field, making it a 2-1 game.

Patiño hit Luke Voit to begin the fourth inning but induced a perfect one-out double play ball from Gary Sanchez to get out of the inning. Patiño’s day was done after four innings of work, he allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits, walked one and struck out three. He threw 65 pitches before Josh Fleming entered to pitch the top of the fifth.

Fleming’s one and only falter was allowing a solo home run to Gary Sanchez in the top of the seventh. For the Yankees, Jonathan Loaisiga entered in the bottom of the seventh to relieve Montgomery, who had struck out nine while allowing only two hits.

Loaisiga allowed no hope for the Rays offense, shutting them down in the seventh then again in the eighth. Prior to that, Fleming found himself in a jam in the top of the eighth but got an inning-ending double play to end the top half.

Hunter Strickland entered the game in the top of the ninth to relieve Fleming. Fleming had a solid four innings of work, allowing one run on three hits while throwing 63 pitches. Strickland pitched a scoreless inning to keep the game within two going into the bottom of the ninth. Aroldis Chapman entered the game for the Yankees.

Austin Meadows reached on an error by Gleyber Torres to start the inning. Unfortunately, a wild pitch by Chapman bounced off the wall behind home plate so quickly that Gary Sanchez was able to pick the ball up and throw Meadows out trying to advance to second.

Yandy Diaz drew a walk to put a runner back on board for pinch-hitter Kevan Smith. Smith lined out for the inning’s second out, bringing Brandon Lowe to the plate as the last hope. Lowe struck out, ending the game.

The Rays dropped the opening game of the series, 3-1, despite multiple hard-hit balls against Yankees pitching. The issue is, the Yankees had 10 hard-hit balls compared to six from the Rays. The middle game of the series is tomorrow night inside of Tropicana Field with first pitch scheduled for 7:10 pm. Gerrit Cole will start for the Yankees against a Rays starter to be determined.