While it ultimately was not the deciding factor in a 7-0 loss to the Yankees, it was indeed a precursor of things to come in this game, as well as a recurring, albeit surprising issue for the Rays. With two outs in the bottom of the 1st and the bases loaded, following a Teixiera strikeout, James Shields appeared to be out of the inning unscathed as Ibanez hit a one hopper to short. Elliot Johnson nonchalantly short-armed his throw to Pena, who was unable to make the scoop and bail his shortstop out, allowing 2 runs to score which, ultimately, would be all the Yankees would need.
Andy Pettitte put forth another amazing start after returning from the retirement, shutting out the Rays on just 2 hits over 7.1 innings pitched and befuddling the Rays hitters in a performance that was reminiscent of his younger days over his storied career. Conversely, James Shields suffered his second straight loss, allowing 7 runs (5 earned) over just 5 innings, striking out just 2 and walking 4, with the big blow being a grand slam by Russell Martin in the 4th inning, which opened the floodgates. Shields has now allowed 5 earned runs in consecutive starts, both losses (CHW, NYY), something he had not done prior to his previous start. The loss drops Shields to 6-4, with losses in his last 3 decisions sandwiched around a quality start against Toronto on May 23rd in which he allowed just 2 ER over 7.1 innings pitched. He is now 0-2 in 3 starts this season vs the Yankees.
Offensively, the Rays did not advance a runner past 2nd base the entire game. Desmond Jennings returned to the lineup and put together an extended at bat in the 6th before ultimately striking out, one of 11 strikeouts for Pettitte on the night. Jennings would later single off Freddy Garcia in the 8th. Cesar Ramos pitched 3 shutout innings in relief, allowing just 1 hit and holding the Yankees scoreless, allowing the rest of the Rays bullpen a night off. That could prove important, as tomorrow night’s starter, Alex Cobb, has gone 5 innings in each of his last 2 starts, a loss to Chicago and a win in Boston. He comes into tomorrow’s start 2-1 with a 3.71 ERA. The Yankees will counter with Ivan Nova. Nova is 6-2 with a 5.60 ERA, but pitched well in his start vs. the Rays last month, going 7 innings and allowing just 2 runs in a 5-3 Yankee win. Cobb has faced the Yankees just once (July 18th of last season) and pitched extremely well, allowing just 1 earned run over 6 innings pitched, taking a no decision in a 5-4 Rays loss. This loss was frustrating, but hopefully the Rays can bounce back on Wednesday.