The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-2 on Wednesday night during the last game of their three-game series at Tropicana Field. The Yankees got back in the win column after losing their last three games and five of their previous six. The three runs that the Yankees scored were as many as they had scored in their previous three games combined.
Derek Jeter was 0-28 coming into the game but his hit in the sixth inning snapped his second longest hitless streak of his career. He scored what ended up being the game-winning run on Brett Gardner’s sacrifice fly to right.
The Yankees scored their first two runs off of Rays starter Alex Cobb in the fifth inning. After being hit during Tuesday’s game, Chase Headley hit a double to deep center that scored Chris Young. Then, Brendan Ryan who usually doesn’t hit for much power, hit a ground rule double that landed near the foul pole in right to score Headley.
Brandon McCarthy had yet another dominating start for the Yankees. He pitched seven impressive innings, only allowed two runs and picked up four strikeouts. Evan Longoria was the only Ray that did damage off of McCarthy. He hit a solo homer in the first and had a RBI ground out in the sixth.
In the seventh inning, McCarthy wrapped up his start with an “immaculate inning” that included recording three strikeouts on only nine pitches. This feat is very rarely seen in baseball and was a great way to conclude his dominating performance. He has proven that the Yankees should make every effort to bring him back next season. Joe Girardi has been impressed with how McCarthy has been pitching.
“I think his sinker has been really good and I think his curve ball has been really effective,” Girardi said. “I think that he gets some strikes with it, he puts some guys away with it and it has been really effective. But I think the command of his sinker has been the most important thing.”
McCarthy, who had struggled before being traded to the Yankees but had excelled in 2011 and 2012, has now allowed two runs or less in seven of his last nine starts. He needed only 91 pitches to get through seven innings and had 12 ground ball outs and eight fly ball outs.
The other pitching highlight from this game was that Dellin Betances, the flame throwing set-up man who was born in Washington Heights, recorded his 131st strikeout of his season. In his first full major league season, he set the record for most strikeouts in a season by a Yankee reliever. Future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera previously set the record with his 130 strikeouts in 1996. His knee buckling slurve and 99 MPH fastball has led him to a dominating 1.33 ERA.
“I got a bunch of text messages (about the record),” Betances said. “I am happy we came out on the winning side. It is pretty incredible to think about the whole year and how everything has gone. I definitely feel honored, especially to be a part of this group and part of this organization. Just to be mentioned around his name (Mariano Rivera), you are talking about the best closer & reliever in the game, just to be around the same breath as him, I take thrill in that.”
“You think about the people that he (Betances) has passed in the last few weeks, Goose Gossage and Mariano Rivera, one Hall of Famer and one who has just got to wait his turn basically, it is pretty impressive what he has done,” Girardi said. “What he went through, some of the struggles that he went through, those struggles help you. When you struggle and are able to get back up and fight through it, it helps you down the road because it is not always going to be easy in this game.”
The Yankees won Derek Jeter’s final game at Tropicana Field after David Robertson got Nick Franklin to strike out swinging to end the game. Robertson picked up his 37th save of the season, which is the third best save total in the American League.
Young, who scored the Yankees first run, should be brought back as a fourth outfielder if he is willing to take a discount. His average on the season is .219, but since his first game with the Yankees on September 2, he has hit .324 in 34 at-bats with three homers and eight RBIs.
The Yankees and Blue Jays will begin a four-game series at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night at 7:05 p.m. Rookie Shane Greene (5-3, 3.56 ERA) will get the start for the Yankees and the veteran knuckleballer R.A. Dickey will get the start for Toronto.
The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-2 on Sunday afternoon to give them their second consecutive win and a much needed series win at Tropicana Field. Hiroki Kuroda only allowed four hits and two runs in 6.2 innings, and Kuroda, who threw 97 pitches, impressively did not pitch much worse after he threw 80 pitches like he had in previous starts.
Kuroda won his eighth game of the season and lowered his ERA to 3.97. He was impressively able to retire 17 consecutive batters between the first inning and the seventh inning. Evan Longoria drove in the first run off of Kuroda in the first inning and he drove in the second run in the seventh on a single that scored Matt Joyce. Kuroda credited his extra rest with his improved performance.
“I think so,” Kuroda said. “The two extra days, I was able to physically get refreshed as well as mentally. For me, I think my slider, especially against the right handed hitters, was pretty decent.”
The offense supported Kuroda on Sunday, which has not happened in many other games that he has pitched for the Yankees. The first three runs that the Yankees scored were off of singles. In the fifth inning, Brett Gardner hit a single to center that scored Stephen Drew and Martin Prado and then Jacoby Ellsbury broke his 17 at-bat hitless streak with a single between the shortstop and third baseman that sent Gardner home to make the score 3-1. Jeremy Hellickson, who pitched five innings, allowed the three runs in the fifth with two outs.
In the eighth inning, to give the Yankees an insurance run, Mark Teixeira hit a 403-foot homer to right-center. That homer was his 20th homer of the season, which means that Teixeira now has 11 20-homer seasons. He is the 14th player in Major League history to hit 20 homers in at least 11 of his first 12 seasons. His 361st career home run tied legendary Yankee Joe DiMaggio for 80th place on the all-time list.
“We hadn’t played well the first few games of the road trip, so it is really good bouncing back the way we did the last few games,” Teixeira said. “Hellickson was really good. He was mixing up his pitches. Give the guys credit, that two-out rally really gave us a shot in the arm. Other than that, he was really impressive. Anytime you get men on base and have a chance to score runs when your team’s not scoring runs, you’ve got to try to take advantage of it. And we did.”
The bullpen came through for Kuroda as well and was better than in previous games behind him since they had lost five games for him this season. Kuroda left with a 3-2 lead, and Shawn Kelley, Dellin Betances and David Robertson combined to allow only one hit in 2.1 innings. Kelley struck out the only batter he faced and then Betances’s two strikeouts in the eighth increased his season total to an impressive 109. Robertson recorded his 33rd save in 35 chances in his first season replacing Mariano Rivera as closer.
After previously struggling mightily with runners in scoring position, the Yankees are now an improved .364 with RISP over their last two games. They still only scored four and three runs in their last two games, respectively, but they will have to continue hitting well with runners in scoring position to continue winning games.
As a result of their last two wins, the Yankees are now 3.5 games behind the Seattle Mariners for the second wild-card spot. After an off-day on Monday, they will play three games against the Houston Astros and then three against the Chicago White Sox.
The Astros and White Sox have a .416 and .476 winning percentage, respectively, which makes winning those two series very important because the Yankees have the hardest remaining schedule of all 19 remaining playoff contenders, according to Jeff Passan. Of their final 30 games, 27 are against teams in the American League East.
The Yankees will play the Tampa Bay Rays (14-17) at 1:05 p.m. to wrap up their three-game series at Yankee Stadium. If they win, the Yankees will win the series two games to one, and will improve their record to 17-13. They are also split their season series, three games to three, so far against the Rays.
Yesterday, the Yankees got yet another solid start from Masahiro Tanaka. The Yankees needed his 7.0 innings pitched because 9.1 innings in Friday’s 14 inning loss to the Rays. Tanaka, who has now pitched 7 innings or more in five of his six starts and has been the team’s most reliable starter, now has an of 2.53, a 4-0 record and 51 strikeouts to only six walks.
CC Sabathia will look to follow Tanaka’s lead and make it two solid starts in a row. He has looked better overall in his last few starts, but he has had trouble avoiding that big inning that has hurt him in many of his starts. In Sabathia’s start against Tampa Bay on April 17, he had his best outing of his season, as he only allowed one run in seven innings while striking out seven. The lefty will look to rebound from his last start where he gave four runs in five innings to the Seattle Mariners. All four of the runs that the Mariners scored off of him came in the fifth inning.
Three players on the Rays that Sabathia will have to concentrate on are Desmond Jennings, Evan Longoria and James Loney. Jennings has a .276 average, four homers and 10 RBIs. Sabathia and John Ryan Murphy will have to pay attention to him when on first because he has six steals. Longoria, who has a .400 average against the Yankees this season and has a .411 average against Sabathia in his career, has three homers and 16 RBIs this season. Loney is hitting .407 in his last seven days and is hitting .343 on the season.
Erik Bedard, who is a veteran lefty in his first season with the Rays, will get the start against the Yankees. In three starts and four appearances he has a 5.52 ERA, a high 1.84 WHIP and an underwhelming 10 strikeout two 10 walks strikeout to walk ratio. However, in Bedard’s last start, against the Red Sox in Boston, he only gave up one run in five innings pitched.
A factor that could help the Yankees while Bedard is pitching is that between 2011 and 2013 Bedard had 5.47 ERA in away games while having a better 3.45 ERA in home games. He is obviously much more comfortable pitching in front of his home fans.
Mark Teixeira is beginning to look like the hitter he was back in 2011 when he hit 39 homers and drove in 111 runs. During spring training, Joe Girardi said that he thinks Teixeira could hit 30 homers and drive in 1oo runs this season, and he could do that if he continues hitting the way he has recently. In he past five games, Tex has hit four homers, drove in six runs and has a .368 average. The Yankees lineup is so much deeper when Teixeria is hitting well. They didn’t have the luxury of having a productive Teixeria in the lineup last season because he was only able to play in 15 games due to an injured right wrist.