Rays vs. Yankees, playing from ahead
UPDATE, 5:55: Maddon said he planned to play Reid Brignac ahead of Jason Bartlett either tonight or Wednesday, and made the decision based on the matchup with Yankees pitchers Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes, not based on Brignac's big blast on Monday. ... Maddon said he's check on the availability of Rafael Soriano and Joaquin Benoit, who worked the last two games. ... LHP Jake McGee was obviously excited to be here, and Maddon said he plans to get him involved quickly, and potentially in high leverage situations, though Randy Choate will still get the tougher lefties. McGee is a possibility to end up on the postseason roster. ... Look for the 2011 regular season schedule to be released tonight - as reported here earlier, the Rays open at home with the Orioles and finish at home with the Yankees, and their interleague trips are to Houston, Milwaukee and Florida, with the Reds, Cardinals and Marlins coming to the Trop.
UPDATE, 4:30: Yankees lineup:
UPDATE, 3:46: Rays lineup, with Brignac at short and Pena down to 7th:
DEVELOPING: The last time the Rays took over first place in the AL East, their stay alone at the top lasted only one day and they went on to lose five in a row. Tonight, they'll seek to increase their lead in the second of three games against the Yankees.
RHP Matt Garza will be on the mound, looking to bounce back from his rough outing last week at Boston. The Yankees will counter with rookie RHP Ivan Nova, who is making his fifth start since being called up from Triple-A.
There's been plenty of national attention and chatter about the Rays today after Reid Brignac's dramatic 11th-inning homer led them a 1-0 victory after a classic pitcher's duel between David Price and CC Sabathia.
The Yankees are getting a bit of rough treatment from the New York media, specifically over manager Joe Girardi's decision to rest his top relievers and use Chad Gaudin and Sergio Mitre in key situations on Monday, with some quesitoning whether it was a sign the Yankees are content to concede the division title to the Rays and win the wild card.
Here are a couple of the excerpts, starting with Andrew Marchand of ESPN:
These are definitely not George Steinbrenner's New York Yankees anymore.
Imagine if "The Boss" of his heyday were still around. Just think about the consequences if, in Steinbrenner's adopted hometown, the manager of the Yankees decided that second place was good enough.
The meeting in the Boss' office would be short, probably a three-word get-together: "Joe, you're fired!"
And from Mark Feinsand of the New York Daily News:
Joe Girardi's tenor during his postgame press conference said everything you needed to know about the state of the Yankees Monday night.
Having just watched Reid Brignac knock his team out of first place with an 11th-inning leadoff home run off Sergio Mitre, Girardi sat in his office and tersely answered questions, insisting that he believed his team would regroup from the devastating 1-0 loss to the Rays. "We've got to bounce back," Girardi said. "We've had three tough losses on this road trip - really tough losses - but this is a team with a lot of character. We'll bounce back."
For most of the night, the game lived up to its billing as a battle of Cy Young contenders, as CC Sabathia and David Price dueled to a scoreless draw for eight innings.
But once it moved to extra innings, the Yankees found themselves counting on Chad Gaudin and Mitre to hold the Rays in check, as Girardi later revealed he was playing without the services of Dave Robertson and Joba Chamberlain. "They've been used a lot lately, so it's something we felt we needed to stay away from," Girardi said. "I used the people that were available."
Whether the health of the two relievers becomes an issue remains to be seen, but their absence Monday night was felt, as the loss dropped the Yankees out of first place for the first time since Aug. 3. The Yankees have lost seven of their last eight, dropping four straight games for the first time all season. Three of those four losses were walk-offs, including a pair of blown leads on Friday and Saturday in Texas.