Loney Key Hit Leads Rays Past Yankees 3-1
The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the New York Yankees by a final score of 3-1 to earn a series split in New York and finish the 7-game, 6-day road trip with a record of 3-4. The victory improves the Rays record to 39-37 on the year and the loss drops the Yankees record to 41-34.
Chris Archer (2-3. 4.21 ERA) earned the victory and Fernando Rodney worked a scoreless 9th inning striking out the side to pick up his 15th save. Archer worked 6 solid innings allowing the Yankees only 1R/ER on 6 hits striking out 4 and walking 1. Entering his start there was some concern about his ability to attack the strike zone. In his last two starts against the Boston Red Sox he made 103 pitches in just 4.0 innings and 109 pitches in 4.2 innings. It looked like more of the same in the first inning as he struggled with his location and needed 25 pitches to get out of the 1st inning.
He took the mound with a 1-0 lead thanks to an RBI single by Ben Zobrist that scored Matt Joyce but found himself in early trouble. Brett Gardner led off the game with a single and advanced to 2nd base on an error by left-fielder Kelly Johnson. Gardner advanced to third on a wild pitch that nearly hit Robinson Cano and skipped off the glove of Jose Molina. Cano made Archer pay for the wild pitch by delivering a RBI sacrifice fly to tie the game.
It looked like another one of those days where he was destined to struggle to get through 5 innings as he was forced to throw 25 pitches but he settled in an only needed 67 pitches to get through the next five innings. On the afternoon he made 92 pitches, 67 for strikes, and had nine ground ball outs to go along with four strikeouts. Joe Maddon's description of Archer's start was that he was "really really good. Early in the game a little bit unsettled but then got good tempo." Maddon complemented catcher Jose Molina saying "J-M0 [Molina] did a really nice job with him today. Really, I thought followed the game plan well."
After giving up the first inning run Ivan Nova (2-2, 4.91 ERA) held the Rays off the scoreboard until the 7th inning. The Rays offense had their opportunities but could not capitalize. In the 5th inning they had runners at 1st and 2nd but Ben Zobrist struck out and in the 6th inning they had the bases loaded but Jose Molina grounded into a double play to end the inning.
The Rays finally broke through in the 7th inning and for a nice change it was the Rays offense doing 2-out damage. Entering the game the Rays pitching staff was second in the AL in runs allowed with 2-outs with 158 and the Yankees ranked 14th in the league allowing only 105 runs.
Nova retired Yunel Escobar on a ground out and Matt Joyce on a fly out for a two quick easy outs but then hit Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist and was replaced by Shawn Kelly. Kelly walked Evan Longoria to load the bases and was replaced with left hander Boone Logan to face the left handed hitting James Loney.
What we had set up was a battle of career norms versus small sample size. In his career Boone Logan has been very effective against left handed hitters holding them to a .249 batting average but in 2013 he has allowed them to hit .279 (12 for 43). James Loney has struggled in his career against left handed pitching hitting hitting .256 but in 2013 he has hit .354 (23 for 65) against southpaws.
James Loney won the battle lining soft line drive over Jayson Nix head that fell in front of Brett Gardner to score both Desmond Jennings and Ben Zobrist and the Rays had a 3-1 lead. With the bottom of the Yankees order due up Joe Maddon elected to go to Jake McGee to work the 7th inning. David Adams did not receive any help from the home plate umpire as he did in Saturday's game and went down swinging, Vernon Wells line drive did not find the gap in right center like Saturday instead it found the leather of Desmond Jennings glove for out number 2, and after a Brett Gardner single Ichiro Suzuki lined out to right fielder Wil Myers to end the inning.
Fernando Rodney came in to work the bottom of the 9th inning with the bottom of the Yankees order due up. It was not a contest as Rodney had a lethal combination of throwing gas and hitting corners. He struck out the side fanning Zoilo Almonte looking and Jayson Nix and David Adams swinging.
Joe Maddon gave credit to his bullpen after the game saying "The bullpen was great Jake [McGee] came out there and threw strikes and got the outs. The same with Joel. Joel is a fly ball pitcher he got his fly balls that is great." He was particulary impressed with Fernando Rodney saying "that was as good as we've seen him in awhile regarding fastball command."
The Rays take on the scorching hot Toronto Blue Jays at Tropicana Field on Monday evening at 7:10 p.m. The Rays send Jeremy Hellickson (5-3, 5.50 ERA) up against the Blue Jays reliever turned starter Esmil Rogers (3-2, 3.14 ERA).