Rapid Reaction: Rays 4, Yankees 3
July, 2, 2012
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
What it means: That no matter which of these two teams is hot, which is cold, which is hurting and which is not, the Yankees can't seem to beat the Rays in Tampa Bay. Tonight's 4-3 Rays win was the eighth straight time they have beaten the Yankees at home, going back to last July 21. The Rays had as bad a June as the Yankees had a great one, had lost seven of 10 games coming in, and were making Freddy Garcia look like Greg Maddux for five innings. But the Yankees couldn't put them away.
Off the mark: Mark Teixeira, usually as sure-handed a first baseman as you'll ever see, just flat-out whiffed on Elliott Johnson's grounder up the line in the seventh, turning what should have been an inning-ending groundout into a game-winner for the Rays. The three-base error scored Brooks Conrad with what proved to be the winning run.
(Pretty) good Freddy: Garcia threw his best start of the year, which may not mean much if you remember his first four starts. Still, he pitched well enough to keep the Yankees in it -- 5-1/3 IP, 5 H, 2 ERs, both on solo home runs -- and if Joe Girardi had gone with what seemed to be his first instinct, to bring Clay Rapada in to face Carlos Pena in the sixth, might have escaped with only one run allowed.
Binder blowup: As mentioned, Girardi had the left-handed Rapada up as Garcia neared his pitch limit of about 75 pitches, and seemed poised to bring him in to face the left-handed hitting Pena. But something caused the manager to change his mind -- perhaps Pena's lifetime stats of 4-41 (.103) vs. Garcia -- and Girardi not only had Freddy pitch to Carlos, he sat Rapada down and got Cody Eppley up. And on Freddy's 74th -- and final -- pitch of the night, Pena's stats improved to 5-42 with one HR, and the Rays tied the game at 2.
Managerial mayhem: Girardi and his counterpart, Joe Maddon, got into a game of Can You Top This? in the seventh. First, Girardi pulled Eppley for lefty Boone Logan to face lefty Luke Scott, so Maddon replaced Scott with Sean Rodriguez, who walked. Point for Maddon. Then, Girardi pulled Logan for righty David Robertson. So Maddon pulledWill Rhymes in favor of switch-hitting Conrad. Conrad doubled off the wall to tie the game. Another point for Maddon. And another blowup for The Binder.
Some guys never learn: The last time Girardi brought Robertson into the middle of an inning, he gave up the three-run HR that cost the Yankees a game. It was a decision so bad Mrs. Robertson tweeted about it. So tonight, he did it again, with similar results. To make it worse, D-Rob was victimized by Teixeira's error. Can't wait to check out @ERob30's feed tonight.
I'll give you the numbers, but . . . : I don't know what they mean, Suzyn. The Yankees were a more than respectable 3-9 w/RISP, all three hits coming in the first inning, but still could only score two runs in the inning, and could only scratch across a third on a walk, a wild pitch and two flyouts in the seventh. So tell me again why that stat is so important?
No bombs, no glory: For the 15th time this year, the Yankees failed to hit a home run, and for the 14th time out of those 15, they lost, a stat which is probably related in some way to the stat above.
Quall-ity:Newly-acquired Chad Qualls made his Yankees debut in the eighth, and retired both batters he faced, striking out Pena and getting Jeff Keppinger to fly out.
The Tooth is out: Raul Ibanez, who broke a tooth and split his lip trying to avoid a foul ball in the Yankees' dugout on Sunday, made it to The Trop in time to hit for Andruw Jones in the ninth. He grounded out to first.
What's coming: A column on Robertson, who certainly hasn't looked much like Houdini since returning from his DL stint with an oblique strain.
Tomorrow: Ivan Nova (9-2, 4.03) tries to become the Yankees' first 10-game winner, facing RHP James Shields (7-5, 4.04), first pitch at 7:10 p.m.