The Yankees took advantage of Price’s early struggles to build a 3-1 lead, thanks in large part to a two run homer from Marcus Thames, who continues to make a considerable impact despite limited playing time. The Yankees tacked on another run in the fifth inning, but also stranded the bases loaded with one out in the frame. In total, the Yankees stranded nine runners over Price’s six innings of work, which allowed the Rays to stay in the game.
Normally, three runs would have been enough for Sabathia. Entering yesterday’s action, the last time the Yankees scored at least three runs with Sabathia on the mound and lost was on May 29. Also, before his loss to the Orioles on September 7, Sabathia had pitched in 21 straight games at Yankee Stadium without a defeat. After the Rays comeback victory, however, he has now lost two home games in a row.
The most jarring thing about last night’s game was not the loss itself, but the sudden way in which it transpired. Like Price, Sabathia was not on top of his game in the early going, but after a quick fourth and fifth, the big lefty seemed to settle down. That all changed in the top of the sixth. A single by Crawford and double by Longoria set the Rays up to tie the game, but in trying to pitch around the jam, it appeared as if Sabathia dug the hole even deeper. Once the Rays put the tying runners in scoring position, the big lefty abandoned his fastball in favor of the slider in an apparent attempt to go for the strikeout. What resulted instead were walks to the light hitting Kelly Shopach and Sean Rodriguez, which eventually forced Sabathia from the game.
Had Joba Chamberlain been able to limit the damage, the Yankees may have still had a chance to win the game, but a BJ Upton ground rule double and two run single by Crawford sealed the deal. The Yankees did mount one last threat when they again loaded the bases in the sixth, but as he did for most of the game, Price made the pitches he needed to turn the rally away. The last three innings were then played like a Spring Training game, as the Yankees unloaded their bench. Meanwhile, Javier Vazquez, who mopped up the remaining innings, unloaded on the Rays’ hitters, plunking three straight batters to tie a record last accomplished by Jeff Weaver.
When Sabathia took the mound with a 3-1 lead in the sixth, the Yankees seemed to be on the verge of sending the Rays out of town with a 2 ½ game deficit. Instead, the Yankees are now the team facing an uphill battle. By losing the game, the Yankees not only squandered their advantage, but also ceded the season series to the Rays. So, not only do the Rays have a decided advantage in terms of remaining strength of schedule, but they now own the division tie breaker as well. With only nine more games left in the season, the Yankees are running out of battles. Although the war has not be lost, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Yankees will have to win it on enemy territory.
Pitchers Who Have Hit Three Consecutive Batters
|Pink Hawley||7/4/1894||1||Browns (Cardinals)||Senators|
|Walter Thornton||5/18/1898||4||Colts (Cubs)||Giants|
|Wilbur Wood||9/10/1977||1||White Sox||Angels|
|Steve Sparks||5/22/1999||3||Angels||Devil Rays|
Source: Baseball-reference.com and baseball-almanac.com