Yankees show glimmers of hope despite losing the game against Rays

Harrison Bader hit a homer against the Rays on May 5, 2023, at Tropicana Field.

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The New York Yankees displayed a strong fighting spirit in their first encounter this season with the formidable Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees deserve recognition for their efforts in responding to a four-run deficit by leveling the score. However, their efforts fell short, ultimately leading to their defeat but not without a show of resilience.

The Rays emerged victorious with a 5-4 scoreline in a fiercely competitive game against their division rivals, the Yankees. Despite the game’s intensity, the Yankees, who are currently in last place, now find themselves trailing the Rays by ten games in the divisional standings.

Yankees’ show of resilience

The Yankees faced the Rays in the first of seven games in just 10 days, and unfortunately, they lost, falling further behind in the American League East standings. The Rays have an impressive record of 27 wins and 6 losses and are only one win away from matching the best 33-game start in MLB’s history.

“It’s not concerning,” Yankee center fielder Harrison Bader said. “I don’t even look at that stuff. … It’s super early. We’re just finding our groove and still playing a lot of good baseball, so there’s no concern whatsoever.”

The Yankees came back from a four-run deficit to level the game in the sixth inning. In the end, Bader’s three-run homer was the deciding factor, although the Rays had taken the lead by the seventh inning. A previous ruling of “out” at the plate was overturned after review, allowing the runner from first base to score. A double by Yandy Diaz, which struck Jake Bauers’ glove in left field, allowed the Rays to take a 5-4 lead.

Bauers admitted that he made a mistake by not catching Wandy Franco’s RBI fly, which was ruled as a double, and that the play caused him to lose his balance.

“That ball’s got to be caught,” Bauers said. “Bad read. I got a bad jump on it. I thought it was coming somewhere where I was already standing, and then it ended up over my head. Once I realized that it was going behind me and I turned back around and tried to make a little jump, I couldn’t recover.”

The Yankees had an opportunity to level the game or take the lead when DJ LeMahieu reached on an infield single with one out and advanced to third on a double by Willie Calhoun’s replacement, Kyle Higashioka.

Bader had another opportunity to make a difference in the game, but he ended up hitting a pop fly to the shortstop. The team’s chance to score ended when Isiah Kiner-Falefa came in to pinch-hit for Bauers and struck out after a nine-pitch at-bat.

Harrison Bader hit a homer against the Rays on May 5, 2023, but couldn't save the Yankees from losing at Tropicana Field.

Anthony Volpe singled with two outs and Rays pitcher Jason Adam was on the mound in the ninth inning. The game ended when Anthony Rizzo flew out to center field.

The battle between the benches

At the end of the game, there were fireworks. Randy Arozarena was hit by pitches. After being struck in the ribs by a 97 mph fastball from Yankees reliever Albert Abreu in the fifth inning, Arozarena behaved as if he was about to throw his bat at Abreu. After yelling at the reliever, he walked slowly to the first base while staring at him.

Amidst heated exchanges from players on both teams, the umpires convened before issuing warnings to both sides. This move led to an outburst from Kevin Cash, the manager of the Rays, resulting in his ejection by the crew chief, Lance Barksdale, who was also the first-base umpire.

“The two clubs have some history that we’re aware of and were made aware of,” Barksdale said. “Neither pitch, the whole crew, did we deem intentional, because if it’s intentional, that’s an automatic ejection.”

The Yankees had only managed one hit and were four runs down when they finally returned. After Rizzo singled with one out, Gleyber Torres drove him in with a double to center. Bader’s 436-foot home run to left field after LeMahieu walked and Calhoun struck out made the score 4-4. He had been out since spring training with an oblique strain, so this was his first home run of the season.

The Yankees fell behind the Rays as Jhony Brito, their starting pitcher, allowed a solo home run by Arozarena in the first inning. The second inning commenced with a leadoff walk, which set the stage for the Rays to score another run via a sacrifice fly. In the third inning, Yandy Diaz’s leadoff home run and Harold Ramirez’s RBI allowed the Rays to add two more runs to their tally.

Some more good news

Luis Severino, a right-handed pitcher who has been recovering from a lat strain, pitched for three innings in an inter-squad game at Steinbrenner Field located in Tampa. It was also stated that Severino is expected to make his first rehabilitation start on either Wednesday or Thursday of next week. This game will be either for the Double-A Somerset or Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre team.

Aaron Judge, who has been out of play due to a hip strain, and Josh Donaldson, who has been out due to a hamstring strain, have been doing hitting and running exercises in a cage at the Yankees’ minor-league complex in Tampa. Judge is expected to return to play next Monday, but Donaldson’s return is still a bit uncertain and he is slightly lagging behind.

Left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon will receive a cortisone injection to help alleviate the back stiffness that has been troubling him for about a month. He has been slowed in his recovery from a forearm strain that occurred in March. It looks like he won’t be available until early July.

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