0-2 doesn’t have to mean ‘Oh, no’
All right, don’t get carried away by a second straight Yankees loss at the start of the season. Try to remember that the last time the Yankees began a season 0-2 was in 2009. Remember how that season ended? The Yankees won the World Series. The time before that when the Yankees started 0-2 was in 1998. Yep, they won the World Series that year, too, following a regular season in which they won a franchise-record 114 games.
After Friday’s shocking, ninth-inning loss with Mariano Rivera blowing a save, the Yankees fell behind early again to the Rays Saturday night and could not make a significant dent against lefthander David Price, who improved his career record against them to 5-2 with the 8-6 Tampa Bay victory.
About the best thing that happened to the Yankees was that an apparent two-run home run by Evan Longoria, who has been on fire in this series, was overturned and changed into a double in the seventh inning after umpires viewed a video replay that clearly showed a fan — a Yankees fan at that — had reached over the fence to catch the ball and prevented right fielder Nick Swisher from attempting a play. But the Rays got two runs anyway on a subsequent single by Matt Joyce, who had struck out four times in Friday’s game only to find himself batting cleanup Saturday night.
The Yankees finally showed some life in the ninth inning against a Tampa Bay bullpen that had been so impressive Friday. Entering the last frame trailing by six runs, the Yankees brought the tying run to the plate before Alex Rodriguez grounded out to leave the Yankees two runs short. Raul Ibanez picked up his fifth RBI in two games with a sacrifice fly as a pinch hitter, and Swisher clouted a three-run homer to give the Yankees hope.
For the second straight game, it was a lackluster performance by a starting pitcher that hampered the Yankees. Hiroki Kuroda’s inconsistency had the Yankees running uphill the rest of the game. The Rays scored two key runs off rookie Clay Rapada, who was used in a left-handed relief role normally assigned to Boone Logan, who has a back ailment. Much more effective in relief was righthander Cory Wade, who retired all five batters he faced, three on strikeouts.
The killer at-bat for the Yankees was in the eighth when they had runners on second and third with one out and Mark Teixeira smoked a liner to right that was gloved by second baseman Sean Rodriguez in an exaggerated shift and turned a double play on Robinson Cano breaking off second base. A similar shift also turned A-Rod’s grounder through the middle into the final out of the game.
The Yankees could use a different kind of shift Sunday, one that results in a W.