ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- After a one-night respite, the Curse of the Trop reared its ugly head against the Yankees once again tonight, transforming what looked like a routine victory into a humiliating, ugly, and disheartening 11-5 defeat.
Hiroki Kuroda wasn't very good, but he was Cy Young compared to what followed. Four Yankee relievers allowed eight runs, all with two out, in a total of two nightmarish innings before Shawn Kelley came on to end a horrific eighth. In fact, the pen was so bad it overshadowed the fact that after one big inning (the second) the Yankees bats pretty much took the rest of the night off.
Months from now, we'll either laugh about this one, or look back on it with a shudder as an omen of things to come. But for now, it's one to forget as quickly as possible.
Seventh hell: Even with the help of a horrendous Tampa Bay baserunning blunder, neither David Phelps, Matt Thornton nor Adam Warren could get a key out against the Rays in the seventh, allowing them to score three times with two out and take a 6-5 lead in a game the Yankees had led 4-0 after three innings. The big hit was a two-run single by James Loney, who had four RBIs on the night, off Warren, who faced four hitters and allowed two singles and a walk before striking out Wil Myers to finally end the inning. And it could have been worse if not for the ...
Esco-boo-boo: Rays SS Yunel Escobar nearly ran them out of the three-run seventh before it had hardly began when, after singling and reaching second on a groundout, he tried to advance to third on a grounder to shortstop. But he was easily thrown out by Derek Jeter. At the time, it looked like a costly mistake.
Wheels come off: Things spun out of control in the eighth when Warren allowed a two-out double to Ryan Hanigan followed by a long home run by Sean Rodriguez that made it 8-5 Rays. At that point, Girardi went to Cesar Cabral, who allowed a run on two singles, and then plunked Longoria and Loney in succession to load the bases. Of Cabral's first 20 pitches -- that's right, 20! -- 14 were balls. That's right. 14. When he finally threw a strike, Myers rocketed it off the third-base bag for two more runs and an 11-5 Rays lead. But Cabral wasn't done yet ...
Et tu, Cesar?: When Cabral's next pitch hit Logan Forsythe in the back, home plate ump Joe West had seen enough. Cabral faced six batters, hit three of them and allowed three hits. And threw a wild pitch.
Hiroki Eroding: Kuroda sailed along for three innings, allowing two baserunners (single, walk), both of whom were erased in double plays. But he labored through a 35-pitch fourth inning, in which the Rays scored twice, and couldn't get out of the sixth, in which he allowed another run on three hits. His final line was a mediocre 5 2/3, seven hits, three earned runs, two walks and two strikeouts.
Center of attention: Jacoby Ellsbury leaped high at the wall to take an extra-base hit away from Ben Zobrist with one out in the fourth inning. Even Ellsbury seemed impressed by the play, flipping the ball high in the air out of his glove to his bare hand before firing it back in.
Thigh-sore: Phelps left the game after being hit, apparently in the right thigh, by a line drive off the bat of Hanigan in the seventh inning. Phelps recovered in time to throw Hanigan out at first but was clearly in pain. He was replaced by Thornton.