The New York Yankees ended a nine-game Tropicana Field skid and a two-game losing streak against the Tampa Bay Rays yesterday afternoon, thanks to hot-hitting All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano and with some help from a former Yankees reliever.
After slogging through seven innings against the Rays ace and All-Star David Price, the Bombers staged a comeback from a two-run deficit with three runs in the eighth inning.
Price was spectacular, allowing only a solo home run to Mark Teixeira in the seventh inning, his final inning of the game. Yankees starter David Phelps did his best to match Price and the only thing that kept him from completely doing so was a pitch-count.
Phelps was superbly erratic in 4 1/3 innings (1 ER, 2 H, 3 BB, 2 HBP and 8 K’s) in his third career start and first since rejoining the team last week. Phelps entered the game not fully stretched out yet, thus the limitation on pitches. He had a rocky first inning with a walk and hit-by-pitch, but settled down and did not allow a run until the bottom of the fourth when Sean Rodriguez singled home Ben Zobrist.
Phelps reached his limit with 81 pitches after a single and sac bunt in the fifth. He was lifted for lefty Clay Rapada with left-handed hitting Carlos Pena coming to the plate. Rapada walked Pena, the only batter he would face, and Cody Eppley was up to the challenge with runners at first and second.
It got dicey as Russell Martin allowed two stolen bases (eight in the last two games), before Eppley ended the threat by striking out Brooks Conrad with runners at second and third. Eppley held the Rays scoreless in the sixth inning as well and his performance was a key component to the Yanks staying in the game.
In the top of the seventh, Teixeira finally got to Price and lofted a home run to left center field to tie the game at one apiece. The Yankees went to Boone Logan in the bottom half of the inning. He allowed the leadoff hitter Elliot Johnson on with a single and got Desmond Jennings to pop out before Carlos Pena launched a homer to right field putting the Rays back on top.
Former Yankees reliever Kyle Farnsworth came out for the eighth inning as Joel Peralta was deemed unavailable by Rays manager Joe Maddon. Working his second game since returning from the disabled list, Farnsworth walked four batters to force in the Yankees second run of the game and retired only one batter. Maddon finally took Farnsworth out with Cano coming to the plate.
He called on lefty Jake McGee who has been nasty against left-handed hitters all season. Fortunately for the Yankees, Cano is one of the hottest hitters in the game right now. He delivered his second hit of the game, a line drive single up the middle scoring Curtis Granderson and Teixeira to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. Cano, now riding an 11-game hit streak, has at least one RBI in eight straight games.
The Yankees (49-32) maintain a five-game lead over the Baltimore Orioles in the AL East, while the Rays (43-39) fell 6.5 games back of the Bombers. The Yankees will enjoy an off-day today as they travel to Fenway Park to face the Boston Red Sox for four games in three days in the last series before the All-Star Break.