Bronx, NY—On Wednesday night, the emotions for players and fans of the Tampa Rays and New York Yankees ran the gamut. The third smallest crowd to attend a Yankee game in the Bronx this season (32,627) was put through an emotional roller coaster.
For the first 7.1 innings of the contest, the hero was Rays’ starter Alex Cobb with a strong assist from shortstop Yunel Escobar.
Cobb continued his previous domination over the Yankees by keeping them hitless for the first 7.1 innings. After the first six Yankee batters were retired, Stephen Drew reached base on a two-base error by centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier. Cobb then set down the next 12 Yankee batters before he issued back-to-back walks to Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira in the seventh.
With one out in the eighth, Chris Young, who was released by the Mets on August 15 and later signed by the Yankees, doubled to deep center to break-up Cobb’s bid for a no-hit game. Despite the very clean hit, after the game, Young praised his opponent on the mound, “Cobb pitched his butt off tonight.”
After Young’s hit, Cobb was removed from the contest. Pinch hitter Martin Prado, on a 3-2 pitch, blasted Bruce Boxberger’s next pitch into the stands in left to put the Yankees on the board. Prado, signed by the yanks on July 31, is batting .389 since August 16. Yankee manager Joe Girardi remarked of Prado, “He’s been locked in and he’s still locked in.”
Despite not achieving a no-hitter against New York, like his teammate Chris Archer, Cobb has won his last five decisions against the Yankees and lowered his ERA in his seven starts to 1.69. Thus, the two Rays hurlers are deserving of the sobriquet “Yankee killers.”
The right-hander, with only one earned run, pitched his 12th consecutive start in which he has given up two runs or less, the longest current streak in the majors and tied for third place in baseball history. His mark has only been exceeded by Felix Hernandez (17) this year and Al Benton (15) in 1945. His 12 games tied three other pitchers, ZachGreinke (2008-9), Barry Moore (1969), and Babe Ruth (1916), one of the greatest lefty hurlers before becoming the greatest slugger in MLB history.
The batting hero for Tampa, if the lead had held up was Yunel Escobar, who knocked in all the team’s four runs on two home runs. The shortstop’s power was highly unexpected as he had not homered in his last 56 games and Wednesday’s contest was his first career multi-home run game.
The final hero of the game, Chris Young, was probably a shock and disappointment to any fans of the Mets. The Yanks were trailing, 4-2, as the bottom of the ninth began. Chase Headley, the lead-off batter was hit in the chin by a pitch. The next batter, Ichiro Suzuki, doubled. After one man was retired, Young put a 0-1 pitch into the seats in left to give the Yankees a 5-4 victory.
The new Yankee outfielder was elated by his home run, “You feel like you’re floating on a cloud.” When sked by a reporter if this was his best moment of the season, he responded, “Definitely.”
Young is batting .500 (6 for 12) since joining the Yankees. Girardi opined, “It’s amazing how things can turn around so quick for a player. The game never makes sense.”
Girardi also told reporters of a comment made by Derk Jeter in the eighth inning, “We’re going to get two in the eighth and three in the ninth.” The words affirmed Girardi’s opinion of Jeter, “That’s what makes him so special. He believes we can overcome everything.”