In a battle of lefties and American League Eastern division rivals, the Tampa Bay Rays and the New York Yankees went after one another right from the get go. Former Cy Young winner David Price took on youngster Vidal Nuno at the Stadium Friday night in the Bronx.
James Loney got Tampa on the board first with an RBI groundout that scored Sean Rodriguez from third base. The Yankees came right back in their half of the second inning, when slumping catcher Brian McCann took Price deep for a 2-run blast into the right field seats that scored Alfonso Soriano, and giving the Bombers a 2-1 lead at the end of 2.
After regaining his composure briefly, Nuno gave up the lead to the Rays in the fourth. AL Rookie of the Year, Wil Myers drove home Evan Longoria on an RBI single to tie the game, and came home with the go-ahead run on a sacrifice fly by utility infielder Logan Forsythe. David Price held the Yankees in check in their half of the fourth and then outfielder Desmond Jennings extended Tampa’s lead when he hit a ball into the right field stands for a 4-2 Tampa margin, which drove Nuno from the game. His final numbers: 4 2/3 innings, 5 hits, 4 earned runs, 3 walks, 2 strikeouts, and the home run allowed. Not exactly the outing manager Joe Girardi had hoped to get from the young lefty, who was inserted into the starting rotation when Ivan Nova injured his elbow and had Tommy John surgery earlier in the week.
Big Dellin Betances came on in place on Nuno, and tossed 1 1/3 innings of scoreless baseball, striking out 3 hitters. He was followed by scoreless appearances from Preston Claiborne and Matt Thornton. The Yankees’ bats continued to be silent, as David Price finished up with a solid line of 7 innings, 8 hits, 2 earned runs, and 8 Ks. Then came Joel Peralta.
In his first inning of work, Peralta took Price off the hook for the win, giving him instead a no-decision. Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano went back-to-back to bring the Yankees into a tie at 4-4. Peralta squeezed out of further trouble. Not to be outdone by the poor bullpen pitching of the Rays, Yankees’ closer David Robertson immediately coughed up the tie on an RBI single to Evan Longoria that scored Ben Zobrist. The Yankees roared back once more, knotting the score up at 5, when Jacoby Ellsbury drove in Brian Roberts to send the game to extras.
Shawn Kelley and Adam Warren combined for four scoreless innings. In the bottom of the 13th, the Yankees had their best chance to end things. Brian McCann led off the inning with a single off of reliever Heath Bell. Brian Roberts followed that up with a single of his own, and both runners advanced one base on a ground out by Yangervis Solarte. Brett Gardner pinch-hit for Warren, because the Yankees lost their use of the DH earlier in the game when Girardi moved McCann from DH to catcher, and a slew of pinch hitters in the catcher’s slot in the lineup–including both Kelley and Warren. Gardner was retired, leaving it up to Ellsbury, who was intentionally walked to get to the Derek Jeter, who coming into the at-bat was 0-for-6 on the night. On a 2-1 count, Jeter bounced back to Bell to end the inning.
Chris Leroux relieved Adam Warren, and committed a Cardinal sin to being the Rays’ half of the 14th. He walked lead-off hitter Desmond Jennings, who was 4-for-5 in stolen base attempts coming into the at-bat. Leroux recovered briefly to strike out Evan Longoria, and then gave up the lead after allowing Jennings to steal second, and yielding an RBI single to Wil Myers, scoring Jennings. To rub salt in the wound, Leroux then gave up an RBI double to Sean Rodriguez, scoring Myers from first base. The wheels came off completely for the Yankees at that point. A lost challenge call on a tag play being upheld, several hits, a 5-spot had been put on the board, and before the Yankees came to bat in the bottom of the 14th, it was 10-5 Rays.
Carlos Beltran led off the bottom of the 14th with a single. Teixeira followed with a line-out to center field. Soriano popped out to Myers, and with the final breath of the night, McCann was retired to end the game. Tampa inches closer to the Yankees in the standings, while the Yankees continue to scuffle, having lost three in a row.
The Rays and Yankees return to action tomorrow afternoon at the Stadium, as Jake Odorizzi (1-3, 6.85) takes the hill for the Rays, and for the Yankees, their new-found ace in Masahiro Tanaka (3-0, 2.27). First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. ET, and the game will be on the YES Network.