Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Rays 8, Yankees 3
By Wallace Matthews
NEW YORK -- It ain't over 'til it's over, but, today, even Yogi would have to admit, it's over. Because it is.
The Yankees' hopes of sneaking into the second AL wild-card spot, on life support since Sunday's 2-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants, came to its official, merciful end tonight in a second straight lifeless performance against the Tampa Bay Rays.
This one was the second half of the Yankees season in a nutshell: poor starting pitching, unreliable relief pitching and practically nonexistent hitting. On the bright side, Charlie Brown arrived at the ballpark safely and well in advance of the first pitch. And with the Cleveland Indians beating the Chicago White Sox -- with help from a home run by Nick Swisher -- it really didn't matter what the Yankees did, anyway.
Deep sixth: After two strong innings in relief of Phil Hughes, David Huff imploded in the sixth inning, allowing a three-run homer to Evan Longoria and a solo shot to David DeJesus to turn a 3-2 game into a 7-2 runaway. For Longoria, it was his eighth home run this season against the Yankees, more than 25 percent of his season's total of 30, and in just 18 games, which translates into 72 homers over the course of a season played solely against the Yankees. Not quite a Barry Bonds pace, but close enough.
Had his Phil: Girardi had a quick hook on Hughes -- yanking him with none out and the bases loaded in the third -- following a prodigiously bad call by third-base umpire Tim Timmons, who called Longoria safe at third even though Eduardo Nunez had clearly beaten him to the bag after snagging Delmon Young's grounder. But following a double by James Loney and a single by Longoria, Girardi had seen enough and brought in Huff. Hughes' final line as a Yankee: 2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB and 2 K's. How short was his leash? Fifty-one pitches. Hughes' final record? 4-14, 5.19 ERA. Heck of a way to head into free agency.
Could've been worse: Hughes got hit hard in the first inning but escaped with just one run when Alfonso Soriano ran down Young's drive to the wall in left for the last out of the inning. But before that, leadoff hitter Ben Zobrist drove Vernon Wells to the right-field fence for the first out, Wil Myers and Loney laced back-to-back doubles for the first run of the game and the normally sure-handed Brendan Ryan booted a routine grounder. So Hughes was lucky to squirm away down only 1-0.
High Nunie: Nunez, who handles David Price well -- he came in 7-for-25 lifetime against him -- crushed an 0-1 pitch into the left-field seats to lead off the third to (temporarily) cut Tampa's lead to 3-2. Price worked seven innings, allowed two runs on six hits -- two of them to Nunez, who also doubled leading off the Yanks' first.
Long balls: Longoria added a solo HR off Preston Claiborne leading off the ninth. His ninth homer of the season against the Yankees is the most by an opposing player since Jose Cruz Jr. in 2001.
More company for Lou: Robinson Cano's first-inning double off the left-field fence that drove in Nunez to tie the game at one was Cano's 40th double of the season. That gave him 40 or more doubles in a season for the seventh time to tie Lou Gehrig for the franchise record.
Andy's turn: It wasn't exactly Mariano Rivera Day, but the Yankees honored Andy Pettitte -- before a sparse crowd -- at home plate before the first pitch. Pettitte, who made his last Yankee Stadium start on Sunday against the Giants, was given a base from that game, which the Yankees and Pettitte lost 2-1.
Good grief: To the relief of thousands, including members of the Yankees front office, tonight's Charlie Brown bobblehead giveaway went off a lot smoother than Tuesday's Rivera fiasco. Two skids of cartons containing bobbleheads were parked inside the main entrance of the Stadium when the press gate opened at 2 p.m.
What's next: The home season finale pits Ivan Nova (9-5, 3.13 ERA) against RHP Alex Cobb (10-3, 2.90). First pitch is at 7:05 p.m. It's also Mo's last home game as a Yankee. Worth tuning in for. Maybe Girardi will give him an inning in center field.