The Yankees had an off day on Thursday, but that did not help them find their offense as they lost 5-0 to the Tampa Bay Rays in the series opener at Tropicana Field. This was their fifth loss in a row after a three-game winning streak, and they have scored a total of seven runs in those five games.
Brandon McCarthy pitched well enough to earn a win for his second straight start. He only allowed two earned runs in 6.1 innings pitched on Friday, and in his last start he got the loss after only allowing two runs in 6.1 innings as well. On Friday, McCarthy recorded seven strikeouts, only one walk and rebounded well after allowing two runs in the first inning.
Jacoby Ellsbury, Mark Teixeira and Carlos Beltran, who are the three, four and five hitters in the lineup. are a combined 4-31 over the last three games. That is an anemic .129 batting average. It is hard to win then the middle of the order does not produce.
The Yankees had chances in this game since they hit a single to start the second, third, fourth and fifth innings but none of those runners were able to advance past third. The offense left seven runners on base and the only hit in six opportunities with runners in scoring position that they had was Derek Jeter’s single in the eighth that loaded the bases. However, that scoring threat was wasted since Ellsbury struck out swinging and Teixeira struck out looking with the bases loaded.
Tampa Bay scored their two runs in the first on grounders that both could have been double plays, and then they scored their third run, in the seventh, on a Curt Casali single that scored Logan Forsythe. That run was unearned because Forsythe reached first as a result of third baseman Chase Headley’s error. With Tampa’s win, the Rays are only the fourth team in major league history to reach .500 after falling 18 games under in the same season.
“Really proud of the boys,” manager Joe Maddon said. “It was not easy.”
Brett Gardner, who went 0-3 and only has two hits in his last 16 at-bats, knows that each loss from now on is a wasted opportunity. “We are running out of time,” Gardner said. “Every day that goes by and we don’t win makes us one step closer to being home at the end of September. McCarthy pitched a great game, it was just a wasted performance.”
Gardner is right because with this loss the Yankees are now 61-59, eight games behind the first-place Baltimore Orioles and 4.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners, who currently have the second wild-card spot. The Yankees offense will have to produce if they are going to be playing games that matter in the middle and end of September during the last few regular season games of Derek Jeter’s career.
On Saturday, with Drew Smyly pitching for the Rays, the Yankees will look to score more than three runs for the first time since they scored 10 runs during their last win on Friday, August 8.