The Yankees (76-66) lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-2, on Sunday, September 11, and ended their seven-game winning streak. They are now four games behind the Boston Red Sox for first place in the American League East and tied with the Detroit Tigers for two games behind the Baltimore Orioles for the second wild card spot.
“Every loss at this point stings just because of how few games are left,” manager Joe Girardi said.
The Yankees have won seven of their last 10 games but could have really benefited from winning on Sunday because their schedule is about to get much more challenging than the 60-82 Rays. In their next three games, they will closeout their home stand with the Dodgers, who are 80-62 and in first place in the NL West and then will play the rest of their games against teams ahead of them in the AL East, except for three games in Tampa Bay from September 20-22. This will give them opportunity to directly gain ground in the division and wildcard but will also automatically lose ground with any losses.
Rookie Luis Cessa, who had allowed three runs or less in his four starts this season before Sunday, was hurt by the home run as the Rays slugged three round trippers against him in 5.2 innings. He ended up allowing four runs on five hits while striking out five in 78 pitches. Cessa has been a reliable starter so far as his array of pitches helped him have a 4.07 ERA going into yesterday’s game, but he needs to prevent so many homers since the opposition has hit eight homers in his 29 innings as a starter, and in his 47.2 innings overall the opposition has hit 13 homers.
A positive to yesterday’s start is that Logan Forsythe and Brad Miller both hit solo homers in the sixth. If they would have hit two or three-run homers then the game would have been out of reach and much more difficult to make a comeback.
Chase Headley hit his 14th homer of the season in the fifth inning, but the Yankees were only able to score one more run after that. In the seventh inning, Brett Gardner singled to right to drive in Headley for the team’s second and final run. During Sunday’s afternoon game, the Yankee had a total of seven hits but were only 1-5 with runners in scoring position (RISP). Jacoby Ellsbury was 0-2 with RISP, Mark Teixeira was 0-1 with RISP and Gary Sanchez was 0-1 with RISP.
Ellsbury flied out with Gardner on second to end the seventh inning and he also flied out to left after Gardner doubled to deep left in the third inning. To end the third, Sanchez struck out with Gardner still on second. The Yankees were not able to do anything in the last two innings since the Rays retired the side in order in the 8th and 9th innings with Brad Boxberger and Alex Colome pitching. The Rays closer, Colome, picked up his 32nd save of the season and lowered his ERA to an impressive 2.01.
Luis Severino pitched well once again but will unfortunately likely not be available for two or three days because he threw 2.1 innings in the loss. He held the Rays scoreless while allowing only two his and a walk while striking out three. Severino, who was sent to Triple-A earlier in the season due to ineffectiveness as a starting pitcher, has now not allowed an earned run in his 16.2 innings pitched as a reliever this season and has only given up four hits in those seven games out of the bullpen.
The Yankees will now play three important games against the Los Angeles Dodgers. LA is coming off of a series where they lost two of three to the Marlins in Miami and former manager Don Mattingly. The Dodgers will send out rookies Jose De Leon and then Julio Urias in the first two games and then 2014 Cy Young winner and likely the best lefty in baseball, Clayton Kershaw, will make his second start since coming off of the disabled list on Wednesday.
It’s important that the Yankees win two out of three games to keep pace or possibly gain ground on the teams ahead of them in the standings.