Blah. That was a yucky loss. The Yankees had a multi-run lead before making their first out, but were unable to tack on more runs before coughing it up late. Like I said, yucky. They fell 4-2 to the Rays.
Great Start, Bad Finish
Man, the first inning was pretty much perfect. Jacoby Ellsbury singled after a long at-bat, Brett Gardner singled, Alex Rodriguez walked to load the bases, Brian McCann singled in a run with a ground ball through the right side, then Carlos Beltran did the same thing. The first five Yankees to bat reached base, giving the team a quick 2-0 lead against the generally excellent Chris Archer.
Unfortunately, the Yankees never scored again. Stephen Drew lifted a fly ball to center field in the first inning but not deep enough to score A-Rod and his two bad hips, so those two runs were all they got. Ellsbury singled with one out in the second, but was thrown out trying to steal. Gardner followed that with a single … then was thrown out trying to still. Ex-Yankees farmhand Rene Rivera threw ’em both out.
I’m not really a fan of stealing bases that early in the game, especially with Archer struggling so much — seven of the first eleven batters he faced reached base — and the top of the lineup playing so well, but what are you going to do. Rivera made two perfect throws. The Yankees had just three base-runners the rest of the game and none of them made it as far as second base: Garrett Jones singled in the fourth, Gardner walked in the seventh, and Chase Headley singled in the ninth. Archer settled in and mowed ’em down.
Nathan Eovaldi pitched his best game as a Yankee but was somehow charged with four runs in 7.1 innings. What a dumb sport. He held the Rays to two infield singles and one line drive single against five strikeouts through the first six innings before a jam shot bloop, a walk, a wild pitch, and a single through the drawn in infield tied the game 2-2 in the seventh.
Joe Girardi opted to send Eovaldi back out for the eighth with his pitch count at 91 and I loved the move. Show some confidence in the kid. I definitely thought Joe was going to go to the bullpen. Eovaldi struck out Rivera to start the ninth then walked Kevin Kiermaier on four pitches with one out. I expected Girardi to yank Eovaldi then but nope, he stuck with him, and Steve Souza dunked a single just beyond a diving Drew. It was another well-placed jam shot.
That was the end of Eovaldi’s night. Dellin Betances came in, allowed a first pitch sacrifice fly to Evan Longoria to give the Rays a 3-2 lead, then uncorked two (!) wild pitches to let Souza score an insurance runs from second. All four runs were charged to Eovaldi even though you could count the number of hard hit balls the Rays had against him on one hand. This game can be so stupid sometimes. Four runs, six singles, two walks in 7.1 innings. I’ll take starts like this all season from Nate. He was awesome.
Girardi’s weirdest move of the night was replacing Jones with Mark Teixeira for defense in the eighth. Jones batted in the top of the seventh, so why not put Teixeira in for the bottom of the seventh when you still have the 2-0 lead? I had no trouble with Girardi’s pitching decisions, but I don’t understand the timing of the Jones-Tex move. Seems like he got caught sleeping in the seventh.
I feel like my stolen base strategies are completely different from the Yankees’. I already explained why I didn’t like the Ellsbury and Gardner steals in the second, but then in the eighth, Gardner walked and didn’t budge. Isn’t that when you’re supposed to steal? In the late innings of a tie game when one run means so much? Seems like Rivera spooked them.
The Yankees had eight hits, all singles. In fact, all 14 hits in the game were singles. Ellsbury (two), Gardner (two), McCann, Beltran, Headley, and Jones had the hits. Gardner and A-Rod drew the walks. Archer’s really, really good. But man, they had him on the ropes in that first inning. Missed opportunity.
And finally, McCann took the blame for the three wild pitches after the game. (All three led to runs.) The last two were really egregious. Those were pitches he should have kept in front of him, or at the very least he should have kept Dellin’s second wild pitch close enough to prevent the run from scoring.
Same two teams again Wednesday night. Adam Warren and Nathan Karns will square off in the third game of this four-game series.