Baseball is a game of taking advantage of opportunities. The Rays had a pair of opportunities to defeat the New York Yankees but let both slip through their fingers in falling 4-3 in 11 innings. The victory goes to Ivan Nova (2-1, 6.11 ERA) and the Yankees improve to 30-18 on the year. The loss goes to Josh Leuke (0-2, 5.68 ERA) and the Rays record falls back to .500 at 24-24.
For the 5th time this season, and for the 4th time in their last 18 games, Fernando Rodney failed to protect a 9th inning lead as once again the Rays were within 1-strike of walking away with the victory. He came in to work the 9th inning with the Rays holding a 3-1 lead and retired Ichiro Suzuki on a fly out to center and struck out Jayson Nix before walking Lyle Overbay who then advanced to second on defensive indifference. Brennan Boesch came off the bench as a pinch hitter and he delivered a check swing double to score Overbay to cut the Rays lead to 3-2. Brett Gardner was down to his final out before dropping a soft line drive into center field and Boesch came in to score on a bang bang play at the plate.
After the game Joe Maddon reiterated that his confidence in Fernando Rodney remains high and that “he[Rodney] is just one pitch away from nearly being perfect in a lot of these games…and most of it is not even about the hit its about the walk..that’s the more important thing to do is eliminate the walk.” He said “if we are in a save situation tomorrow night and everything flows I think you’ll see Fernando back out there.’
Asked if he were worried about Rodney’s confidence Maddon said, “I’m sure it’s bothering him. You’d have to ask him that…I’m not going to run away from guys when they are struggling a little bit and I don’t think he’s struggling a lot. It’s a little bit.”
Matt Moore worked the first 6 innings and giving up 1R/ER on 5 hits while striking out 2 and walking 2. He made 104 pitches and 66 were for strikes. After the game he was asked about the bullpen issues and chose to credit the opposition saying “those guys have been doing it their entire career, their tough outs, this is the major leagues their good too.” When asked if Fernando Rodney’s blown saves get in his head he responded by saying “if he’s thinking about what I’m doing it’s probably not going to be too good on his job and same thing if I’m thinking about his job its not going to reflect too positively on me.”
Vidal Nuno gave the Yankees a quality start going 6 innings allowing 2R/ER on 5 hits striking out 2, walking 2, and hitting a batter. He departed with the score tied at 1-1 and 1 man on base and nobody out in the 7th but the Rays were able to take a 3-1 lead after he had been removed from the game off relievers Shawn Kelley and Boone Logan before Preston Claiborne came in and ended the Rays rally in the 7th and completed a scoreless 8th inning. David Robertson came in to work a scoreless ninth inning before departing for Ivan Nova.
Nova had just been activated from the disabled list after missing a month with strained right triceps and the rust showed as the Rays loaded the bases on 2 singles and a walk but Nova bore down and struck out James Loney on 3 pitches and retired Matt Joyce on a ground out to first.
Josh Lueke had worked a perfect 10th inning and had retired the first two hitters in the 11th when Lyle Overbay launched a solo homer to right to give the Yankees a 4-3 lead. As soon as the ball cleared the wall in right field Mariano Rivera was up and heading to the bullpen mound to warm up.
The victory gives the Yankees their first series win in St. Petersburg since April 9 through 11, 2010.
Jake McGee who worked a scoreless 7th to extend his streak of scoreless innings to 6 stretching over 7 appearances.
Tomorrow afternoon the Rays will look to avoid the sweep and will send Alex C0bb (5-2, 2.73 ERA) up against C.C. Sabathia (4-3, 3.43 ERA) at 1:40 PM.