Rays spoil A-Rod’s return
Alex Rodriguez, who returned to the lineup Monday for the first time in six weeks, said before the game that he should not perceived as a savior for a Yankees team that has tumbled down the American League East standings during his absence. It was a warning worth heeding. One man no matter how powerful a hitter can do alone what the Yankees need. They need more of a team effort every day, more than what they have been getting in this stretch.
When a team goes through a slump, certain things that go unnoticed are suddenly magnified. A good example is that of Robinson Cano, who does not always hustle out of the batter’s box. He cost himself a chance to get on base in the eighth inning for that reason, and in a one-run game something like that stands out.
This is not to put the 4-3 loss to the Rays on Cano, who was seen limping in the clubhouse after the game and may be hurting. Cano had the Yankees’ first hit off James Shields, a double in the fourth, and scored the Yankees’ first run in a three-run inning that wiped out a 2-0 deficit. The hit that sent Cano to third base was a broken-bat single up the middle by Rodriguez, who tied Babe Ruth for 40th place on the career hits list with 2,873.
Cano came home on a sacrifice fly by Eric Chavez. Rodriguez’s legs got a big test as he ran all the way home from first base on a triple to right by Raul Ibanez, who subsequently scored on an infield single by Russell Martin.
That turned out to be all the scoring for the Yankees, whose lead is down to one game over the second-place Orioles and 2 ½ over the third-place Rays. Tampa Bay base running dominated its offense. A double steal pulled off by B.J. Upton and Ben Zobrist in the fifth led directly to a run that tied the score off CC Sabathia, who struggled a bit with fastball command but pitched well enough to keep the Yankees in the game.
A steal fueled the Rays’ winning rally in the ninth against David Robertson, whose record fell to 1-5. The Yankees erased one base runner when Martin on a pitchout gunned down pinch runner Rich Thompson at second base, a call disputed by Rays manager Joe Maddon, who was ejected.
Robertson got the second out on a fly ball to right-center that Chris Dickerson grabbed while he collided with Ichiro Suzuki, but neither outfielder was hurt. Ryan Roberts singled to left to keep the inning alive and then stole second. Chris Gimenez’s grounder to the right side eluded Cano and went into right field for a single to score Roberts.
The Yankees got a stolen base in the ninth as well but failed to get the runner home. Eduardo Nunez swiped second with one out as a pinch runner. He got to third base on an infield out but was stranded there. Fernando Rodney earned his 41st save with a strikeout of pinch hitter Curtis Granderson.
So it was another loss for the Yankee in a one-run game and when they do not hit a home run. The Yanks are 17-20 in one-run games and 4-20 in homerless games. Not even facing Shields could work in the Yankees’ favor. His victory improved his record against them to 2-2 with a 6.10 ERA this year and 7-13 with a 4.52 ERA for his career. The Yanks are 1-5 at Tropicana Field this season.
Just having A-Rod back in the lineup was a positive sign. Granderson, who has tendinitis in his right hamstring, may return to center field Tuesday night. Mark Teixeira, who is nursing a left calf strain, may be kept off the Trop’s artificial surface the next two nights and is hopeful that he could be back when the Yanks move on to Baltimore. By that time, the Yankees also hope that the Orioles will still be behind them.