A game the Yankees needed and so did the Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field Tuesday night. And in another ballpark it was a Yankees crowd despite this being the contingency home series for Tampa Bay in New York. The Yankees lost 2-1, also a change because they have become so accustomed to Citi Field as their New York Stadium away from the Bronx where they always seem to win.
In other words, a rare loss for the Yankees at Citi Field. And the last time the Yankees visited Flushing it was a two- game sweep over the Mets in that four-game Subway Series last month. However this game was more important and for both teams because games down the stretch are significant in a race for October.
The Yankees lost another in the standings to the Red Sox and the Rays got a win they needed to keep their AL wild card hopes alive with six other teams in the picture.
“Their pitcher did good job making sure that we couldn’t put runs on the board,” said Clint Frazier the Yankees rookie. For a change of pace at Citi Field the Yankees lost to a starting pitcher that was better and a quartet from a bullpen that was the difference.
And the Mets had nothing to do with that with exception of opening their doors to a team that still had their minds on what was going on with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma down on Tampa. The lone Mets presence was seeing the out of town scoreboard posting the latest score from Chicago which was another first at Citi Field.
Sonny Gray tossed a complete game for the Yankees and got his first loss of his career going the route because of a mistake pitch, the home run ball, one of two that accounted for the Rays’ runs.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said, “The bullpen did the job. It lined up pretty well tonight.” That was due to Steve Cishek, Dan Jennings, and Tommy Hunter working scoreless ball before Alex Colome took over in the ninth and recorded his 44th save.
Cash, in the office of Mets manager Terry Collins said everything was on target for a return to Tampa Bay after the finale of this unusual three-game series Wednesday afternoon. That finale turns out to be important for the Rays. They are fighting for a wildcard and the Indians with a record tying 20-game winning streak are making it easier for them to stay alive.
The Yankees, comfortable enough to be that first wildcard team are still chasing the Red Sox for the division. But on this night, with 21,024 of their fans making this their home field advantage, it was not in the cards at Citi Field.
“Any time you lose it’s tough to swallow, no matter how it happens,” Gray said. “I just hope we can come out tomorrow and win the series. Any time we lose a game, it’s not a fun feeling.”
More so, it’s not fun losing a game or a series away from this home, Citi Field. The Yankees expect another 15,000 or so of their fans to show up Wednesday afternoon as the visiting team as they conclude this latest road trip that can’t get seem to budge them another game or two off the Red Sox lead.
The reason they may not win this division in a year of the unexpected is that word known in baseball as inconsistency. They can’t go on a winning streak like the Indians and their inability to stop good pitching is part of the issue.
Three hits won’t do it, no matter how good the opposing pitcher is.
Yankees fans can fault manager Joe Girardi for not going to the bullpen in the eighth inning. Adeiny Hechavarria got hold of a good pitch off Gray and used his power that enabled him to hit the ball over the left field wall. But home field advantage was not for the Yankees this night at Citi Field.
They lost another big game at a ballpark they always seem to win. The Rays are playing for something and so are the Yankees, and as they say tomorrow is another day. Except every game for the Yankees is another important day and all of them won’t be at Citi Field.
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