Rays defeat Yankees 6-5

By Bryan Levine

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The Tampa Bay Rays dealt New York their sixth loss in a row Monday night, beating the Yankees 6-5 courtesy of the long ball.

Down by four runs headed into the bottom of the sixth, the Rays opened up for a five run inning, ignited by a pair of two-run homers by Sam Fuld and B.J. Upton. That five-run inning was just enough for the Rays to hold on for their first win in four games; In scoring six runs, it was also the first time this season the Rays managed to scratch across more than five runs in a home game.

Former Yankees Johnny Damon and Kyle Farnsworth were key pieces of the Rays win. Damon, who helped the Yankees win their 27th World Series, hit a screaming line drive that just made it over the right field fence in the fourth. Farnsworth came into the game in the 9th and threw a perfect inning to record his eighth save of the season.

Though previously billed as a pitcher’s duel, Monday’s game did not turn out as planned. Rays ace David Price was smacked around early and got knocked out of the game after just five innings. Price had his second-shortest outing of the season and it was just the second time in his last 17 starts that he has pitched
less than 6 innings.

“It‟s huge,” Said Price after the game. “We’ve struggled here at home to get over that 5-run hump and we did it tonight within one inning. That was big. It showed a lot of heart from all our guys. Went out there against the Yankees and battling from [down] 5-1 — its good for us.”

On the hill for the Yankees was AJ Burnett, who started the game without a hitch and wasn’t showing any signs of letting up until his dismal sixth inning. Three long flies and six runs later, Burnett matched his season-high in runs allowed and matched his career-high in home runs surrendered.

“Location changed. Balls came over the plate. When you have an aggressive team like that they are going to jump on mistakes,” said Burnett after the game. “It is disappointing. The guys got in here late. They put up a good couple of innings against their No. 1 guy and I let it slip away. I just missed some spots and I couldn’t stop the bleeding.”

The one bright spot for the Yankees in this game was their number two hitter, Curtis Granderson. Granderson crushed a three-run shot in the fifth, marking his 14th on the year. With that home run, The Grandy-Man put himself on pace to rip over 50 home runs this season and is currently trailing only Toronto’s Jose Bautista in homers on the season.

The Yankees, losers of 10 games over their last four series, have been playing non-fundamental ball as of late. New York has continued to extend innings and make errors in key situations. The Yankees battery has combined for more than five wild pitches or pass balls over their last four games, including two passes tonight by first-year Yankee Russell Martin.

“Any game you lose is disappointing and today’s is disappointing as well.” Said Yankees manager Joe Girardi after the loss. “This is going to turn. We are going through a really tough stretch right now. It seems like when things start to go your way, they turn around a little bit. This is where you are tested as a team and you have to fight through it. I know the group of guys. I know their character and I know their effort. Like I said, every team goes through this and you have to get to the other side.”

These two beasts of the east will square off again Tuesday night for the final game of a rare two game series. The Rays are throwing their season’s best pitcher, James Shields, who is 4-1 with a 2.08 era on the mound – he will face young Yankee fireballer Ivan Nova. Nova has performed very well this season early in games, but has struggled after facing the opposing team’s lineup for the second or third time. Shields is turning out to be the pitcher the Rays needed him to step up and be, churning out some quality play behind David Price, including two complete-game shutouts already this season, helping to take some heat off the Rays bullpen.

All photos by Alex Barrett, [email protected]