Winning the division just got a little harder.
This was always going to be the tough one. With the Armstrong opening for Yarbrough, things didn’t exactly line up. But here’s the thing: we got the pitching. We continued to hold the Yankee bats in check for the most part. We just couldn’t get to Montas, and the Yankee relievers held on for dear life for a 2-1 New York win in front of a sellout crowd at the Trop. The Rays are now five games back, four in the loss column.
A chance to sweep in front of a sellout crowd? Let's go pic.twitter.com/Vjenxe9DsE— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 4, 2022
Shawn Armstrong got the open, and pitched very well, going three innings, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out two.
Unfortunately, that one hit came on the second pitch of the game to Aaron Judge, who has been known to hit balls very far.
Though this second inning event did not end up in any scoring, it was kinda fun. And of course Josh Donaldson was in the middle of it. It started when Armstrong fell behind Donaldson 3-0, then buzzed the tower. Benches cleared, and there was plenty of jawing, but nothing much happened besides warnings being issued to both sides.
Benches clear after Donaldson takes a pitch upstairs pic.twitter.com/JHncLVRQB2— Talkin' Yanks (@TalkinYanks) September 4, 2022
Not sure what Donaldson was mad about. He said he wanted fastballs! Also...
Donaldson thinking the Rays are trying to hit him like he isn’t a free out pic.twitter.com/7YrJEBwyBo— Raysin (@TheRaysin) September 4, 2022
Yarbrough came out for the fourth, and though he wasn’t as sharp as Armstrong, he still pitched well. He worked 2.2 innings, gave up three hits, two walks, and struck out one.
The Yankees had a golden scoring opportunity against Yarbs in the fifth. One out singles by Higgy and Judge and a two out walk by Cabrera loaded the bases for Stanton. Stanton looked terrible on the first two pitches, falling behind 0-2. Yarbs then dotted the top of the zone for strike three, but it was not called.
Two close misses sent the count all the way out to 3-2 before Stanton lifted a curve to deep right that was gathered in by Margot.
Yarbrough exited with two outs in the sixth, with a runner on first (Hicks, who reached on a throwing error by Walls). Enter J.T. Chargois. Though Chaggy pushed Hicks into scoring position when he hit Peraza with a 1-0 fastball, he got out of the inning by getting Higgy to ground to third.
The Yankees collected their final run in the seventh. It started when Judge collected his third hit of the day leading off, looping a double up the right field line. Chargois then got DJLM to ground to short, but with Judge breaking for third, Walls attempted to cut him down instead of taking the sure out at first. It was the right play and a good throw by Walls, but Judge made a nice swim move to avoid the tag. First and third, no outs, enter Colin Poche.
I don’t know about you, but I had a very bad feeling about this. But! Poche actually did a decent job. Sure, he gave up a fly to medium left that scored Judge. But he sat down Stanton and Donaldson in short order, on a foul and a strikeout, respectively.
As for the Rays offense? Well they did drive up Frankie Montas’s pitch count. But that was mostly it, as the embattled Yankee righty spun five shutout innings giving up just one hit, no walks, and struck out seven. T
The Rays only real scoring chance against him came in the first, when Margot reached after Isiah Kiner-Falefa booted a routine grounder. Manny then moved up on a Montas wild pitch. But Randy Arozarena was unable to cash in the chance as he grounded out to third.
Díaz also hit a two out single in the third that did not amount to anything.
Trivino got the call in the sixth, and though he was greeted by another single from Yandy Díaz, he escaped further damage by setting down the next three in order.
In the seventh, the Rays made some real noise. With Ron “The Karate Kid” Marinaccio pitching, David Peralta drove a double off the wall in left. Paredes followed by working a five pitch walk. Bethancourt hit it well, but lined out the center, bringing Marinaccio’s day to an end. Jonathan Loáisiga got the ball next to face Taylor Walls. Walls struck out, but pinch hitter Jonathan Aranda drew a seven pitch walk to load the bases for Yandy Díaz. But Yandy was unable to convert the chance, hitting a broken bat grounder to short, forcing Aranda at second.
Matt Wisler made his return from injury in the top of the eighth. Kiner-Falefa singled and Hicks reached on an error by Aranza, putting runners on the corners. Wisler then struck out Peraza and got Trevino to pop to shallow right, putting him in a decent spot where he could pitch carefully to Judge. Except he didn’t. Behind in the count 2-0, Wisler threw a meatball slider than Judge took for a strike. Then he threw another meatball slider that Judge swung through. Finally, he threw a meatball(ish) slider that Judge hit 395 feet. However! Judge hit to dead center, where it’s 404. Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
The Rays finally got on the board in the ninth. With Clay Holmes on to close it for the Yankees, Peralta lined a fastball the other way into the left field corner for a double. Bruján, who had entered earlier as a pinch runner, hit the ball well, but lined out to right. Peralta to third on the play. Francisco Mejía then pinch hit for Bethancourt and doinked a single the other way, scoring Peralta.
Walls nearly had an infield single that barely rolled foul. He followed that up with a well struck liner that was run down in center. Aranda then stroked a double up the left field line, bringing up the Rays best hitter in Diaz for the most important at bat of the day.
Yandy had a very Yandy at bat, working a full count before taking a fastball low for ball four.
Hard to argue with Yandy on this one pic.twitter.com/W6ahliKumz— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 4, 2022
Oh. Well, that’s not right. Maybe take a second look.
Hey Vic! Vic Carapazza! See that #6? When it’s a strike, Yandy Diaz will tell you it’s a strike!
Anyway, while this was a tough loss, it really falls squarely in the “you can’t win ‘em all” category. Which is disconcerting, because if the Rays are gonna track down the Yanks, they kinda have to win, if not all of them, than almost all of them.
So let’s get back on the horse tomorrow. We have a 4:10 PM Labor Day matchup against the Red Sox tomorrow. TBA (probably Luis Patiño) will take on Michael Wacha.