Freddy Garcia was removed one batter too late in last night's loss to the Rays (Image: Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE)

Over Thinking It: Yankees lose tough one to Rays

The New York Yankees got more than expected out of Freddy Garcia in his first start since April, but the bullpen faltered again in a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, the Yankees eighth in a row at Tropicana Field.

The Yankees have a lot to be happy about at this point in the season, but last night’s loss was the second tough defeat within the last five days and could portend to issues down the road. The Yanks are fortunate that the loss didn’t affect their lead in the AL East as everyone else in the division (except of course the Rays) lost last night too.

Garcia gutted through 5 1/3 innings of two-run ball. Both runs were solo homers, the first to B.J. Upton and the second to Carlos Pena who Garcia owned (4-for-41) previous to the homer. Pena was Garcia’s last hitter, and despite the lofty numbers against Pena, it was easy to see he was gassed. Yankees manager Joe Girardi refuses to meld statistics with vision at times, and it came back to haunt him last night.

The Yankees had staked Garcia to an early 2-0 lead against Rays starter Matt Moore. Derek Jeter doubled to lead off the game and scored one out later on Mark Teixeira‘s double. Alex Rodriguez singled moving Teixeira to third and Robinson Cano brought him in with a single. It was Cano’s 6th straight game with a RBI.

The Yankees regained the lead in the seventh inning when Chris Stewart walked, moved to second on a wild pitch, advanced to third on Jeter’s flyout and then scored on Curtis Granderson‘s sacrifice fly. The Yankees bullpen couldn’t keep men off the bases in the seventh and a costly error by Teixeira was the undoing in what became the deciding frame.

Lefty reliever Boone Logan walked Sean Rodriguez with one out and then threw a wild pitch to advance the runner. Logan got Jose Lobaton to pop out. Rays manager Joe Maddon called for switch-hitting Brooks Conrad (hitting .188 vs. lefties and .105 vs. righties) and Girardi couldn’t wait to run to the mound to make the pitching change because, well Conrad is much better against lefties (sarcasm).

Girardi brought out David Robertson to get the final out of the inning, but Conrad delivered with a run-scoring double off the right field wall. The next batter, Elliot Johnson hit a hard ground ball to first base that bounced just over the bag and got by Teixeira. It was ruled an error, Teixeira’s first on the season. Conrad scored what was the deciding run.

The Yankees could not muster anything against Joel Peralta in the eighth or Rays closer Fernando Rodney in the ninth. The Yankees (48-31) remain six games up on the Baltimore Orioles, while the Rays (42-38) moved to within 6 1/2 games of the Yanks.

In tonight’s matchup the Yankees send out Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.03 ERA) while the Rays counter with James Shields (7-5, 4.04 ERA). It is an important start for Nova as the Yankees have rookie David Phelps pitching in tomorrow’s game on a pitch count. Nova, coming off an impressive June, is 4-0 with a 2.82 ERA in 38 1/3 innings against the Rays. Shields is 5-13 with a 4.55 ERA in 146 1/3 innings in his career against the Yankees.

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Tags: Alex Rodriguez B.J. Upton Boone Logan Brooks Conrad Carlos Pena Chris Stewart Curtis Granderson David Robertson Derek Jeter Fernando Rodney Freddy Garcia Ivan Nova James Shields Joel Peralta Mark Teixeira Matt Moore New York Yankees Yankees

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