The Yankees lost a frustrating game to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-3, on Tuesday night at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees are now 3-4 during the first seven games of their nine-game homestand. That is not how Joe Girardi wanted to begin a crucial stretch of home games in September.
Hiroki Kuroda allowed four earned runs and nine hits in only 3.1 innings against the Rays. He had previously allowed two runs or less in his last four starts. He struck out the side in the first inning, but James Loney led off the second with a homer to right, and then Kuroda’s four singles allowed in the third inning led to two more Tampa Bay runs. Evan Longoria and Loney hit RBI singles to center in consecutive at-bats. Kuroda allowed three consecutive singles in the fourth with one out before being taken out of the game with the Yankees losing 4-0.
Seven Yankee relief pitchers actually combined to pitch 5.2 innings and only allow two hits and zero runs. Girardi has so many relief pitchers at his disposal since the roster expanded on September 1. David Huff allowed two hits in his 1.2 innings and David Robertson pitched a scoreless ninth and hasn’t allowed a run in his last 5.1 innings.
However, instead of Kuroda, the loss can be blamed on a Yankees offense that scored three runs or less for the third time in their last four games (they didn’t score a run in two of those games). Out of the seven hits that the Yankees had, only Jacoby Ellsbury’s home run in the fourth inning was not a single. One controversial play with Stephen Drew stands out in the fifth inning.
In the fifth inning, the first three batters that came to the plate got on base, as Chase Headley was hit by a pitch and Ichiro Suzuki and Drew both singled. Chris Young then hit his first hit in his first start with the Yankees. His single scored Headley and Ichiro. Jacoby Ellsbury hit a single with Drew on second but Drew was ruled out at home. Drew should have scored according to the rules or been held at third.
Rays catcher Ryan Hanigan was clearly blocking the plate and the only way that Drew could have scored is if he ran Hanigan over. According to the new rules this season, if the catcher is blocking the plate the runner is supposed to be ruled safe. “You almost have to encourage the runner to run the catcher over,” Girardi said. “The only thing he could do is run him over, that is it.”
The Yankees could have had their fourth run right there, but third base coach Rob Thomson said that he should have held Drew at third to have runners at second and third with no outs. “Just a bad send,” Thomson said. “An error on my judgement. I take full responsibility for it.” To end the fifth inning, Derek Jeter hit into a double play where Young was doubled off of second.
Another play that hurt the Yankees chances was in the seventh inning when Ichiro had third stolen with one out, but Drew swung at the pitch and hit a line drive to right field causing a double play. If Drew would have been more aware and not have swung, he could have driven in Ichiro with a sacrifice fly.
The deflating loss to Chris Archer, who has dominated the Yankees in his career, makes the team’s hope of getting the second Wild Card far fetched at this point. They are now 5.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers and Kansas City Royals with only 20 games to play.