Yankees’ lead in AL East is gone
And then there was none.
Games ahead, that is. The Yankees are still in first place in the American League East, but they are no longer alone atop the standings. A 5-2 loss to the Rays Tuesday night coupled with the Orioles’ 12-0 rout at Toronto created a first-place tie in the division between the Yankees and Baltimore. It marked the first time in an 84-day period since June 11 that the Yanks were not all by themselves in first place.
In addition, the third-place Rays are merely 1 ½ games out of first. The AL East, which looked like a runaway around the All-Star break, has turned into a dogfight. The Yanks led by as many as 10 games July 18. All of that lead has shredded. They have gone 19-25 since that date while the Orioles have gone 29-15 and the Rays 28-16. That is how leads disappear.
As for disappearing leads, that has happened to the Yankees in the three consecutive games they have lost. They couldn’t hang on to 2-0 and 3-1 leads in losing to the Orioles Sunday or to a 3-2 lead Monday and a 2-0 lead Tuesday night to the Rays.
Robinson Cano showed no signs of a lingering hip problem with a two-run home run in the first inning Tuesday night, but that would be all the offense the Yankees would generate. They had five hits the rest of the way. Their best chance to tag on runs was in the third against winning pitcher Alex Cobb when Derek Jeter singled and Curtis Granderson walked with none out, but Cano struck out and Nick Swisher grounded into a double play.
Freddy Garcia hit the fifth-inning wall for his third straight start. He gave up back-to-back home runs to Desmond Jennings and B.J. Upton that inning which created the final score. Garcia let Tampa Bay back in the game right away in the first inning on an RBI double by Upton. Evan Longoria shot the Rays into the lead with a two-run homer in the third.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi keeps saying that the team is not panicking, but his body language betrays him. The skipper went full-metal ballistic in the fourth inning against plate umpire Tony Randazzo and was ejected for arguing balls-and-strikes after Chris Dickerson was called out on strikes to end the inning.
Girardi did not want to discuss the matter after the game. There really wasn’t much to be said about anything in this game.