ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- The story of the Yankees' 5-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays tonight in the opener of a three-game series between AL East rivals was a simple one: Matt Moore good, CC Sabathia not so good. But there were a couple of minor subplots:
• If you think Vernon Wells had a tough night at the plate, it was nothing compared to the night he had in the field. Wells had a terrible time with Moore, striking out three times, and never got his bat on the ball until the ninth inning, when he lined out to center against Kyle Farnsworth. But Wells' real agony came in the third inning, when he made a spectacular, if awkward, sliding catch in foul territory on Ben Zobrist's fly ball down the left-field line. Wells lay flat on his back, motionless, for a few seconds before getting up and after the game, he showed us why: Somehow he had managed to spike himself on the inside of his left thigh, the cleats on his right foot gouging an angry-looking 6-inch gash.
"I haven't figured that one out yet," he said. "I'll watch the replay to try to see how I did it."
Wells said he would be OK to play tomorrow.
• No such assurances for Kevin Youkilis, who was scratched from the lineup after suffering a recurrence of the lower back tightness that forced him out of Saturday's game after taking batting practice tonight. “He might be a couple of more days," Joe Girardi said. "We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. He felt good, then he went through BP and it tightened up a little bit. It is what it is and we’ll get through it.”
Youkilis was not in the clubhouse to address his condition after the game and it's just as well. Ever since he left Saturday's game after five innings, he has been insisting he's fine and would play "tomorrow." We'll see tomorrow.
• There was one, and only one, offensive highlight for the Yankees and its name was Robinson Cano. Just hours after insisting he would not be distracted by the latest story allegedly linking him to the notorious Biogenesis clinic of Miami -- the name of Sonia Cruz, the spokeswoman for Cano's foundation, is said to appear in the Biogenesis records -- Cano went out and proved it by hitting a mammoth home run off the otherwise unhittable Moore with one out in the fourth. It was Cano's team-leading sixth home run of the season, a number he did not reach last year until the 45th game of the season. He finished that year with a career-high 33. Cano also had an infield single in the sixth, the Yankees' only other hit of the night.
• Francisco Cervelli made the catch of the night, but it wound up not counting. In the sixth, Shelley Duncan hit a pop fly into low-Earth orbit that went above the highest catwalk near the top of the Tropicana Field domed roof, rattled around a bit and then dropped straight down, where Cervelli caught it on the fly in front of home plate. But home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ruled it struck the rung in foul territory, which under the Trop's ground rules makes it a dead ball. Girardi argued briefly but gave up.
"I kept looking up there, and I started getting dizzy after a while," Girardi said. "It’s hard for me to tell if it was fair or foul. The guy said he saw it, so for me to argue isn’t going to do me much good. The only thing it can do is cost me.”
Duncan wound up striking out, so no foul, no harm.