Yankees cannot repeat a miracle finish
No miracle for the Yankees Tuesday night, and they could have used another one to slice into the lead of the Blue Jays, who lost in Atlanta. Instead, the Yankees remained three games back of Toronto in the American League East because they could not complete another ninth-inning comeback at St. Petersburg, Fla.
Once again, they posed a threat with two outs and no one on base in their last licks. This time, the hurdle was higher as the Yankees were down by three runs, not one. That was because of a bloop, two-run single by J.P. Arencibia off Bryan Mitchell in the bottom of the eighth. Right fielder Rico Noel, the rookie who stayed in the game after pinch running for Carlos Beltran in the top of the inning, came oh-so-close to catching the ball with a diving attempt, but it fell free to give Tampa Bay two huge insurance runs.
Dustin Ackley began the Yanks’ comeback attempt with a pinch single, his fourth consecutive hit dating to Sunday. Rays first baseman James Loney was charged with an error for failing to glove a chopper by Jacoby Ellsbury that put runners on second and third with two down.
Brett Gardner, who had started Monday night’s miraculous finale with a two-out walk, had a chance to duplicate Slade Heathcott’s heroics of the night before, but his fly ball to left field was turned into a routine out.
The closest thing to a miracle for the Yankees this time out was the first-inning, opposite-field home run by Alex Rodriguez off Jake Odorizzi. A-Rod’s 32nd home run of the season came on a night it was revealed that he is playing with a bone bruise in his left knee. He also walked in the fourth and scored on Greg Bird’s impressive home run to center that climaxed a 10-pitch at-bat.
Other than that, the Yankees’ offense was as stagnant as it had been for eight innings Monday night when they totaled one hit.
Adam Warren, thrust back into the rotation with the injury to Nathan Eovaldi, made his first start since June 25 at Houston and lasted only four innings as his pitch count soared to 65. Warren gave up four hits in the first inning but only one run. An errant throw by catcher Brian McCann trying to prevent Mikie Mathook from stealing third base in the second inning accounted for the second run off Warren.
The Rays had a miracle of their own in the sixth inning. Nick Franklin, a .133 hitter who entered the game at shortstop after Asdrubal Cabrera strained his knee, trumped Bird by clocking a two-run home run to right off Nick Rumbelow, who had worked out of a jam the previous inning with two key strikeouts but gave up a leadoff single to Logan Forsythe before Franklin’s unlikely bomb.
Forced to empty his bullpen, manager Joe Girardi got quality work from Chasen Shreve and Branden Pinder before Mitchell had his second straight ineffective outing in letting the Rays pull away and leaving the Yankees hoping for another miracle.