Game 31: Falling Down to Step It Up

At a certain point, enough is enough. Nobody’s perfect, but no one is that bad. The Rays aren’t the team they used to be anymore. The subservience is over, and it’s been over for a while. If you weren’t sure before, understand now.

Ben Zobrist doubled. Carlos Pena walked. With 2 outs, the Rays got another walk. But the Yankees pitchers worked out of trouble to hold the Rays scoreless. That happened in both the 1st and 5th innings for the Rays. David Phelps was the opposite of dominant, allowing 3 hits and 4 walks in 4.2 innings while striking out 3 in 4.2 innings. But with help from Boone Logan in the 5th, Phelps didn’t allow a run. Jeff Niemann pitched well for the Rays. He had a moderately rough first inning, allowing a Derek Jeter single to begin the game and a 2-out opposite field double to Robinson Cano to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead. Niemann went 7 innings, allowing 1 run on 6 hits, striking out 5 while walking 1. He threw 69 of 102 pitches for strikes and forced 9 groundouts to 4 flyouts. It was his first start of the season in which he went 6 or more innings. Yet he left in line for the loss.

In the 8th, Rafael Soriano came for the Yankees. B.J. Upton greeted him with a single. Then the Rays got a break as a Robinson Cano error on a throw to second base for a force pulled Derek Jeter off the bag to give the Rays 1st and 2nd with nobody out. But Soriano came back to strike out Luke Scott and get Will Rhymes to ground into a force play before pinch-hitter Desmond Jennings flied out to end the inning.

In the bottom of the 8th, Fernando Rodney came in for the Rays- partially to keep the Rays down 1-0 and also because he hadn’t pitched in three games. Rodney allowed 2 out singles to Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano, but Will Rhymes was able to corral Mark Teixeira‘s rocket groundball to turn it into a 4-6-3 double play to get the Rays out of trouble. The Rays would have to get something off David Robertson in the 9th.

One swing, and the night instantly changed. (Credit: Brad Penner-US PRESSWIRE)

The Rays wasted no time. Sean Rodriguez singled to left on the first pitch Robertson threw. Then Brandon Allen came out to pinch-hit for Chris Gimenez and came on swinging, hitting a line drive to right field. Rodriguez rounded second and went towards third and Nick Swisher came up throwing, but on the throw to third, Rodriguez slid in safely and Allen alertly took second on the play. ThE. Robertson walked Ben Zobrist on four pitches (definitely some intention involved there) to load the bases and bring up Carlos Pena. For the second consecutive night, Robertson struck out Pena looking. B.J. Upton came up to the plate, and the Yankees were a double play away from winning the gamE. Robertson fell behind Upton 2-1. And then he left a fastball up and away, and Upton went with it, hitting a flyball to right field, deep enough for Rodriguez to score to tie the game even though Swisher came through with an incredible throw to make it relatively close. Matt Joyce came to the platE. Robertson got ahead of Joyce 1-2. But thE. Robertson left a fastball up, and Joyce muscled it out to deep right. He lost his footing on the swing and fell down, twisting his ankle. But it didn’t matter. Joyce got enough of the pitch to drill it into the first row of the right field seats, and suddenly the Rays had a 4-1 lead. Joyce limped across the bases, but he was fine and remained in the game.Fernando Rodney worked around a single in the 9th to close out his own win, and the Rays won 4-1. Rodney (2-0) earned the win, while Robertson (0-1) took the tough loss, blowing the  save with the all eyes on him following the injury to Mariano Rivera.

The Rays finally came through. They went 1 for 11 with runners in scoring position in this game. They left 11 men on base. But that was bound to end. Joyce saw an opportunity on the misplaced pitch from Robertson, and he took advantage. The Rays stole a game from the Yankees. And now, with David Price set to go up against CC Sabathia on Thursday night, the Rays have a chance to come up with a series win.

Topics: B.J. Upton, David Phelps, David Robertson, Jeff Niemann, Matt Joyce, Robinson Cano

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