Yankees’ scoring stops after 1st inning again

For a while there, it looked as if the Yankees would just shove the Rays aside and not worry about them anymore by winning six of the first seven games against Tampa Bay this year. After the past two nights, however, the Rays have demonstrated that they have no intention of going away.

For the second straight night, the Yankees could not muster an offense beyond a two-run first inning, a lead their starting pitcher in each case failed to hold. Adam Warren followed Nathan Eovaldi in allowing the Rays to come back Wednesday night, this time by a 3-2 score, which brought Tampa Bay back to two games behind the Yankees in the American League East.

Just as in Tuesday night’s game, Tampa Bay’s starter was wild at the beginning. Nathan Karns walked the first two batters on eight pitches and threw a ninth straight ball on the first pitch in the at-bat of 3-hole hitter Alex Rodriguez, who eventually flied out to shallow center field.

Singles by Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann made it 2-0 Yankees, but once again they failed to break the inning wide open as Carlos Beltran was called out on strikes and Stephen Drew, playing his first major-league game at third base, flied out to center. Karns settled down after that and got through five innings, although he needed a strong throw from center fielder Kevin Kiermaier to cut off the potential tying run in the fifth by gunning down Teixeira at the plate.

Four Tampa Bay relieves held the Yankees to three hits over the final four innings with seven strikeouts.

Warren gave back a run in the first on Steven Souza’s sixth home run of the year and the rest of the lead in the second on doubles by Logan Fosythe and Asdrubal Cabrera (his 1,000th career hit) and a single by Joey Butler. Warren also settled down after that and retired the last 10 batters he faced in a row through the seventh. Andrew Miller struck out the side in the eighth, but the Yankees could not strike back.

After slugging five home runs plus two doubles Monday night, the Yankees have had no extra-base hits since then. All 10 of their hits Wednesday night were singles as were all eight of their hits Tuesday night. Singles can score runs, of course; after all, four did the past two nights, but all came in the first inning and no RBI hits of any kind after that.

Drew’s appearance at third base probably means that Rodriguez can hang up his glove. A-Rod’s 39-year-old legs have started to feel heavy, so full-time designated hitter duty is his lot.

In the meantime, that team in the rearview mirror no longer seems so distant.

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