What are the Tampa Bay Rays if not an organization of trolls that have made beating the Yankees their specific mission in life?
No, sorry, not just “beating.” Embarrassing the Yankees.
Tampa Bay has built a roster with 14 interchangeable, threatening pieces on offense and 11 different lefties who throw either 72 or 99. There is no in-between. Everyone is good, no one is memorable, and they’ve just gone 16-1. They’re laughing at you.
You leave every series with the Rays feeling like you just went through a blender. “Did I face Josh Fleming?” you might ask. And there’s no way of knowing for sure. That could’ve been anyone.
Everything against the Rays moves so quickly, though, that you may miss certain moments intended specifically to emasculate your team and rub in their faces that Tampa Bay’s front office just knows more than you do.
The ninth inning on Monday was a good example of that phenomenon.
The day the Rays acquired Brewers reliever JP Feyereisen last week, every Yankees fan knew that he’d come back to bite them at some point, considering he was added by the Bombers in the Clint Frazier trade back in the day before being traded to Milwaukee in Sept. 2019 for … well, nothing. Why did we do that?!
Of course, the vengeance took only a week to arrive. Though the Yankees wouldn’t have rallied against a 50-year-old Rolando Arrojo on Monday, there was Feyereisen anyway. What better time to use him for a save opportunity?!
The Rays clearly used JP Feyereisen just to take one more shot at the Yankees.
Feyereisen may be closer material — but, then again, so is every single Ray who comes out of the bullpen.
It seems Tampa’s intention was to slide him directly into that role midseason, though, as he’s already made five appearances, four of which have come in save situations (three successful). Who better to put the final nail in the Yankees’ sliding coffin, sending them 5.5 back (!) of the division lead with three more losses — er, games — to go in this series?
And hey, how about the way they treated Rich Hill in this game, too? The type of move that good-hitting teams that know how to put pressure on their opponents take advantage of.
With Hill absolutely rolling, throwing just 56 pitches through five innings, Kevin Cash decided they didn’t want him facing the Yankees lineup a third time. Cash yanked him after DJ LeMahieu’s well-struck double play (how many more times can we hear that?), going to journeyman Michael Wacha instead.
And that’s when the Yankees’ offense, slumbering for far too long, absolutely POUNCED on Wacha, given a respite from — no, just kidding, they scored one run in the final four innings and whimpered home. The Rays knew they could get away with extended rest for Hill. Just knew it. 56 pitches! Did anyone even notice they did that?
I left that game confident Hill could carve through this Melted Butter Yankees offense for at least 12 more innings, and you could sell me on 15.
Just effortless from the 41-year-old. And, like the cherry on top, there was a former Yankee lingering in the bullpen to shut the door. An additional reminder that when you give up on talent for free, that talent will eventually get to either the Rays or Red Sox.
Last season was the worst, sure, but this season is the worst.