2. The Yanks drew first blood in the top of the 4th when Nick Johnson led off with a single and Alex Rodriguez blasted a deep line drive over B.J. Upton's head in center field. Johnson scored from first, and when the Rays threw home A-Rod broke for third. Rodriguez slid in safely as the ball went past Evan Longoria into the outfield allowing him to score on what was ostensibly a double (but was scored a triple). Yanks 2, Rays 0.
3. The only lead the Yankees would have all game was short-lived. In the bottom half of the fourth, Ben Zobrist led off with a walk. After getting Longoria to fly out to center, Javy Vazquez grooved a high fastball to Carlos Pena that was launched into the right field seats for a two run homer, knotting the game up at 2.
4. Still with one out in the fourth, Upton singled to to center and stole second. Willy Aybar flied out to left and the Yanks and Vazquez were awfully close to escaping the inning with the score still tied. Instead, Dioner Navarro sliced a single to left, scoring Upton. Sean Rodriguez followed with a shallow base hit to center, putting runners on first and second for Jason Bartlett. After falling behind 0-2, Vazquez battled back to level the count but left a changeup out over the plate that Bartlett pulled into left field, just past the diving attempt of Marcus Thames. It scored both Navarro and Rodriguez, putting the Rays up 5-2.
5. Vazquez came back out for the 5th inning and sat the Rays down in order. He returned to the mound in the 6th but gave up a double to Upton and a two run homer to Aybar. After getting two straight outs, Javy walked Sean Rodriguez and his night was over. Sergio Mitre took over at that point, allowed the inherited runner to score and gave up another run of his own. 9-2 Rays.
6. The final Yankee run came on back to back doubles by Derek Jeter and Nick Johnson in the top of the 8th. The Yanks loaded the bases with two outs but Nick Swisher struck out swinging to end the inning and squash the last bit of hope the Yanks had.
IFs ANDs & BUTs
- Considering the score and the situation, I think the biggest blow was the two out Bartlett double. Had Brett Gardner been playing left, he almost certainly would have made that play, ending the inning with the Yankees trailing by just one run. Instead, Marcus Thames couldn't get there and the Yanks chances of winning took a severe blow. Might Joe Girardi remember this play next time he decides to start Thames against a lefty? I think Gardner needs to be given a chance to contribute offensively before he is relegated to the bench every time a left hander starts against the Yanks. His considerable range in left is huge asset and could easily make up for Thames' superior power if Gadner is somewhat respectable at the plate.
- Vazquez's return looks pretty terrible on paper (6 2/3 IP, 8H, 3BB, 8ER), but I don't think it was quite that bad. The above play was extremely costly and even with all the damage he was efficient with his pitches, tossing just 98 (62 for strikes) before getting pulled.
- David Price was efficient and effective for the Rays giving up three runs over 7 2/3. He allowed 7 hits, walked three and struck out 7. He stayed out for 111 pitches with a considerable lead and if that rubs you the wrong way, Jonah will set you straight.
- Nick Johnson finally picked up a couple of hits, going 2-5 with zero(!) walks.
- Mark Teixeira, however, did not break the ice and is still hitless on the season. START PANICKING IMMEDIATELY.
- After struggling to get the final out of the 6th inning, Sergio Mitre displayed his impressive mop-handling abilities, throwing two scoreless innings in the 7th and 8th.
Note: The game today is at 3:15, certainly an odd hour for an game in the Eastern Time Zone. We'll have the preview and all that jazz for you later on.