A sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays. The last time the New York Yankees did that? June 17-19 of 2019. Almost three years later, the Bombers did it again on June 14-16. And there may be a reason why.
Most notably, this Yankees team is better and different. The pitching is top notch. The hitting either bombards the opponent or comes through in clutch situations — the latter of which has been hard to come by in recent seasons.
But the Rays have … changed. Westworld’s version of baseball just hasn’t had the same edge to kick off the 2022 season, and perhaps it could be a sign of things to come. They’re by no means “bad,” sitting at 35-28, but it’s not like them to fail to punch back, play with a lack of edge/fundamentals, and complain when things don’t go their way.
Typically, they’d just sit back, do their job as they’re told, and watch the rest unfold as the Tampa-run machine did all the work, with their opponent eventually breaking down and succumbing.
In 2022, though, it appears their emotions may have gotten the best of them. During this series against the Yankees, they really played with no energy, and were miffed by a call that was correctly overturned via replay.
Errors on Tuesday and Wednesday cost them both games and they scored three total runs in the three-game series. So, have the Rays gone soft?
3 moments during Yankees-Rays series that prove Tampa has gone soft
3. Bringing in Ryan Thompson When Trying to Avoid Sweep
If you’re trying to avoid a sweep in a close game, why is anybody with a 6.30 ERA coming out of that bullpen … in the middle of an inning … to face the top of the order?! Is Kevin Cash being Weekend at Bernie’d?
On Thursday night with the Rays clinging to a 1-0 lead, Brooks Raley got the first two outs of the bottom of the sixth. Jose Trevino grounded out and Joey Gallo struck out (shocker). Raley, a left-hander, only threw 16 pitches across 1.2 innings of work.
Instead of tasking him to get out the ice cold DJ LeMahieu for the final out of the frame, Cash removed him for Ryan Thompson, who has been dreadful over the last month, allowing 11 runs over his last nine games and still struggling with control issues (despite pitching a clean frame against the Bombers on Wednesday).
Thompson proceeded to walk LeMahieu, who had four hits in his last 28 at-bats, and Aaron Judge, putting a runner in scoring position. Mind you, Raley had faced the minimum five batters over his 1.2 innings and struck out two. Thompson then grooved his trademark meatball slider right over the plate to Anthony Rizzo, who knocked a single into right field to tie the game.
The Rays were one out away from escaping the inning and Cash once again galaxy-brained himself into thinking a worse move would be the solution to the situation at hand.