Yankees fall short and flat in their 5-2 loss to Rays

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and starter Carlos Rodon are during the game vs. the Rays on Aug 1 at Yankee Stadium.
Inna Zeyger
Wednesday August 2, 2023

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Tuesday’s Yankees debacle will be remembered for years to come as a day of agony for the fans. Carlos Rodon struggled on the mound, and the Yankees’ offense had a lackluster performance once more. The MLB Trade Deadline passed, and the Yankees remained largely unchanged, with their performance reflecting a further decline in the record but a status quo on the level they have.

The Yankees’ 5-2 defeat came in front of a restless crowd of 38,047 at Yankee Stadium. Yandy Díaz and Randy Arozarena both hit home runs, giving Tampa Bay an early advantage they held onto throughout the game. But the Bombers’ forgot to hit and end up getting bombed.

With their loss against the Rays, the Yankees‘ season record dropped to 55-52, keeping them in last place in the AL East and 3.5 games behind an AL Wild Card spot. The team’s recent performance has been disappointing, going 1-4 during a challenging stretch of 10 games against the Orioles, Rays, and Astros.

On the other hand, the Rays have been impressive in the series, hitting a total of six home runs in the first two games. Their overall season record stands at 66-44.

Carlos Rodon fell flat

Carlos Rodon, who showed promise in his previous outing against the Mets, struggled in this game, giving up four runs and four hits in a mere four innings of play. Two of those hits resulted in home runs – one by Diaz, his 15th of the season, and one by Arozarena, his 18th. The Yankees starter also faced control issues, walking four batters while managing to strike out five. He threw a total of 97 pitches in the short span, with 63 of them finding the strike zone.

Yankees starter Carlos Rodon reacts after a rough outing vs. the Rays on Aug 1 at Yankee Stadium.
AP Photo/ Frank Franklin II

With his record dropping to 1-4, Rodon, who was acquired in the offseason on a lucrative six-year, $162-million free-agent deal, has seen his ERA for the season rise to 6.29. His performance in five starts has left much to be desired and hasn’t lived up to the expectations of his expensive contract.

Yankees’ offense fell short of expectations

The Yankees’ offense struggled to find an answer against Rays starter Zach Eflin (12-6), who dominated them for six innings without much challenge. Eflin allowed only three hits, never conceding more than one in a single inning, and impressively struck out five batters without issuing a single walk.

AP Photo/ Frank Franklin II

In the sixth inning, the situation might have become more challenging for the right-hander if Brandon Lowe hadn’t made a spectacular play to rob Anthony Volpe of a potential hit at the start of the inning. Lowe, the second baseman, lunged to his right to catch Volpe’s grounder toward the middle and swiftly threw him out. Despite the defensive brilliance, Jake Bauers managed to hit a two-out double to left field, raising hopes among the crowd. However, Aaron Judge‘s fly out to center, just shy of the warning track, dampened the momentum. It’s worth noting that 21 of Bauers’ last 29 hits have resulted in extra bases.

In the ninth inning, the Yankees displayed signs of resurgence against left-hander Colin Poche. With one out, Harrison Bader came in to pinch-hit for Bauers and managed to hit a blooper that dropped for a double in center field, although it could have been caught. Subsequently, Judge hit a towering shot to left field, but it was caught in front of the warning track as well. Gleyber Torres followed that up with a double into the left-field corner, scoring a run and reducing the Yankees’ deficit to 5-1.

Veterans fizzled out, Yankees bullpen failed to live upto expectations

Following Anthony Rizzo‘s single, DJ LeMahieu managed to hit an infield single, resulting in another run being scored. This brought the tying run to the plate and compelled the Rays to call in Pete Fairbanks, one of their top relievers, to face pinch-hitter Giancarlo Stanton. Unfortunately, Stanton struck out, concluding the game, and the frustrated fans responded with boos.

The Yankee bullpen, having boasted the best relief ERA in baseball (3.10) before the game, saw its streak of 13.2 consecutive scoreless innings come to an end. Right-hander Ian Hamilton allowed a run in the fifth inning after taking over for Rodón. Remarkably, it was just the fourth time in his last 24 appearances that Hamilton had given up an earned run.

Judge, who had a successful return to the Yankee lineup after missing almost two months, entered the game with a 3-for-7 record, including six walks and a home run. However, he ended the night with a 1-for-4 performance, securing his only hit with a single in the first inning.

The Yankees are left to fight for their honors on Wednesday.

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