The Tampa Bay Rays modest 2-game road winning streak came to an end Friday night in New York as they fell to the Yankees 6-2. The loss drops the Rays to 38-36 on the year and the Yankees improve to 40-33.
Roberto Hernandez (4-8, 5.14 ERA) took the loss and in what has become a common theme in many of Hernandez’s starts this season he pitched much better than his pitching line would indicate. He worked 7 innings allowing 5R/ER on 9 hits (1 home run) striking out 4 and walking 1. He made 93 pitches, 68 for strikes, and threw a first pitch strike to 23 of the 28 batters he faced.
When asked about Hernandez start Joe Maddon said, “He was good, I means there’s all ground balls. The damage was inflicted by ground balls and there’s not a lot he can do about that. He had about 9 or 10 ground balls in a row, many that weren’t hit that hard. I think he pitched really, really well actually.” When it comes to the amount of runs Hernandez gave up Maddon said he doesn’t want people to be deceived by that number, “he actually threw well, he did his job, he put the ball on the ground. Unfortunately, we could not get to those ground balls but I thought he was good.”
The Rays offense was only able to push across a single run in the 3rd and 4th innings against David Phelps (5-4, 4.01) who in picking up the victory worked 5.2 innings allowing 2R/ER on 8 hits striking out 4 and walking 1. The Yankees bullpen took over and held the Rays scoreless over the last 3.1 innings. Boone Logan retired Matt Joyce to end the 6th inning and Shawn Kelley, Dave Robertson, and Mariano Rivera worked the final 3 scoreless innings. The Yankees bullpen held the Rays to just 1 hit, 0 walks, and struck out 4 in 3.1 innings of work.
Hernadez’s evening got off to a rocky start as the Yankees forced him to make 24 pitches in the first inning as they grabbed an early 1-0 lead on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Robinson Cano. The Rays came back to tie the game in the top of the third on a Ben Zobrist single to score Yunel Escobar.
The Yankees regained a 1-1 lead on a infield grounder that scored Austin Romine from 3rd but the Rays came back to tie the game in the top of the 4th on a Luke Scott single that scored James Loney from second. Later in the inning the Rays appeared to have Phelps on the ropes as they loaded the bases with 1-out but Matt Joyce and Desmond Jennings both flew out to end the threat.
Concerning the Rays offense Maddon said “we attempted to swarm but they had the raid out.”
The Yankees came back to take a 4-2 lead in the bottom of the 4th. After Travis Hafner, Lyle Overbay, and Zolio Almonte singled to load the bases with nobody out Hernandez got a much needed double play ball off the bat of Jayson Nix to score Hafner and move Overbay over to 3rd. With 2-out David Adams sent an infield chop to Evan Longoria who threw wildly to first (ruled a hit) allowing Overbay to score.
The Yankees extended their lead to 5-2 in the bottom of the 6th on a 2-out solo homer by Zoilo Almonte the first of his career. For Hernandez it was the 13th home run he has given up in 2013 and the 10th allowed to a left handed batter.
The Rays and Yankees will turn right around and play Saturday afternoon at 1:05 p.m. The Rays will send Alex Colome (1-0, 0.00 ERA) and the Yankees will counter with left hander C.C. Sabathia (7-5, 3.93 ERA).