Rapid Reaction: Rays 7, Yankees 4
July, 3, 2012
By Wallace Matthews | ESPNNewYork.com
What it means: That the road trip on which the Yankees were poised to run away from the AL East is starting off like one that will bring them back to the field. Their 7-4 loss to the Rays tonight, one of their worst games, fundamentally, of the season, is the ninth consecutive time the Yankees have lost at Tropicana Field, which is becoming their own personal house of horrors.
Comedy of errors: Depending upon your sense of humor, I suppose. The Yankees committed three official errors, one unofficial error, at least two baserunning gaffes, and pitched poorly besides. Sloppy, sloppy, sloppy.
Russell's tussle: Russell Martin struggled through his worst game of the year, allowing five stolen bases, throwing one into center field that caused a run to score, and allowing a perfect throw home to be knocked out of his glove, accounting for another run and directly leading to two more. To make things worse, Martin went hitless in four at-bats -- including striking out to end the game -- to run his streak of futility to 0-23 and drop his batting average to .182. He hasn't had a hit since June 20.
Robbie being Robbie: The best and worst of Robinson Cano was on display in the first inning. The Yankees' best hitter lined a clutch RBI single off James Shields to knock in the Yankees' second run of the game. Seconds later, Cano took off on the crack of the bat as Nick Swisher flied to center, probably thinking there were two out. Unfortunately for Cano and the Yankees, there was only one out, and the Rays completed an easy inning-ending double play.
Glove hurts: The Rays scored three unearned runs in the third inning thanks to a tough scoring call on Martin and a soft one on Alex Rodriguez. Tampa got a one-out baserunner when Elliott Johnson's hot shot to third scooted under A-Rod's glove. Although the ball was hit right at him, it was scored a base hit. Three batters later, B.J. Upton lined a single to left, and Wise fired a perfect one-hop throw to Martin at the plate, but the ball popped out of the catcher's mitt on impact with the sliding Johnson. Instead of being the third out of the inning, it became the Rays' first run. That play led to two more runs when the next batter, Jeff Keppinger, singled in Upton and Desmond Jennings. For good measure, Ben Zobrist followed with a grounder that Eric Chavez booted at first, but it went nowhere after Luke Scott flied out.
Glove hurts, the sequel: Leading 5-4, the Rays tacked on two runs in the seventh when Martin's second error of the night, a throw that skipped under Cano's glove into center field on a steal attempt, allowed Jennings to score from third (he was credited with a steal of home) and put Upton on second, from where he scored on Zobrist's single off Chad Qualls.
Wise cracks: Dewayne Wise hit a moon shot that confounded Rays RF Zobrist, who chased it all over the outfield, and seemed to take forever to come down. That's because it hit one of the catwalks high above the field here at The Trop, which is an automatic home run. Home run No. 3 for Wise was also run No. 3 for the Yankees.
A-bomb by Rodriguez: That would be Sean Rodriguez, not Alex, whose fourth-inning blast into the left-field seats with Jose Molina aboard destroyed any lingering illusion that Nova was pitching a good game. The shot enabled the Rays to retake the lead for the second straight inning, 5-4, and this time the runs were earned.
Relay race: The Yankees missed a great scoring chance in the sixth when, after Raul Ibanez doubled into the right-field corner, the Rays executed a perfect relay -- Zobrist to Rodriguez to Molina -- to nip Cano at the plate, who did not help his own cause by going in headfirst and trying to sneak a hand into home plate rather than sliding straight in, which might have gotten him there in time.
Tomorrow: David Phelps (1-3, 3.16) returns to the rotation for the Fourth of July finale, facing LHP David Price (11-4, 2.92), first pitch at 3:10 p.m.
- There are no games scheduled for today.