Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay Rays beat New York Yankees again, 5-2

ST. PETERSBURG — Alex Cobb did some pretty good pitching for the Rays on Tuesday. And Evan Longoria, B.J. Upton and Desmond Jennings took care of the swinging.

But the bigger story at the half-empty Trop on Tuesday was the squirming taking place in the opposing dugout.

The Rays' 5-2 win completed the Yankees' staggering freefall, as what was a 10-game American League East lead on the morning of July 19 is now gone. The Orioles won again Tuesday to pull even, and the Rays (75-61) are just 1½ games back.

"You expect a team like that to get hot, but you also know they're going to cool down at some point," Longoria said. "You can't plan or expect they're going to cool down as much as they have."

With no other choice, the Yankees, mired in a 19-25 run, are hoping a turnaround is coming soon.

"Teams struggle at times, it's contagious, both in good ways and bad," captain Derek Jeter said. "We're slipping a little bit, but hopefully we'll be able to break out of it (tonight). We still have games left, we have to find ways to win."

The Rays, who have gone 28-16, are finding plenty.

Tuesday, one key was Cobb, the 24-year-old pitching in his first September and showing the Rays, at least on this night, they don't have too much to worry about with Jeff Niemann hurt again.

Cobb, as he tends to, struggled a bit early, giving up a two-out walk then a homer to Robinson Cano in the first.

But Rays manager Joe Maddon told catcher Jose Molina to force Cobb into a quick rhythm after that — so he wouldn't overthink things — and as also tends to happen, Cobb got better as the game went on, working seven solid before turning it over to Joel Peralta and Fernando Rodney, who finished for his major league-leading 42nd save.

After putting the first two on in the third, Cobb retired 14 of his 15 remaining batters, including his last 10. And he did so efficiently, throwing only 32 pitches over his final three innings (15-9-8).

"It's the closest thing I've had to a playoff game," Cobb said. "It was a lot of fun to go out in that environment and go out and pitch well."

His mates helped before 17,652 at the Trop. Upton doubled in a run in the first, swinging 3-and-0 to lace a double down the line to score Jennings. Then Longoria had the big hit, a two-out, two-run homer in the third, his fourth in his past nine games, to put them up 3-2. Then Jennings and Upton hit back-to-back homers in the fifth, Upton adding the team home run lead, at 18, to a stat line that also includes the most RBIs (63) and stolen bases (27). "He's just not missing on any pitches," Maddon said.

It was the fourth time this season the Rays hit back-to-back homers.

The Rays are familiar with big leads vanishing, having run down the collapsing Red Sox last September. And Maddon has seen it from the view the Yankees have now, as a coach on the 1995 Angels team that was caught by the Mariners.

"It's not easy to walk into that room when you've had that kind of a lead and it kind of goes away," he said. "Because you get to the point where you imagine the worst as opposed to the best."

Not, of course, that the Rays feel sorry for them in the least.

"We've got to get them while they're down right now," Longoria said, "because you don't want to wake a sleeping dog."

 
Comments
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Kevin Kiermaier returns to the Rays

Times sports columnist Tom Jones joins Rick Stroud to discuss Kevin Kiermaier's return to the Rays, whether Victor Hedman should win the Norris Trophy for the NHL's best defenseman, Bucs expectations for this season and Barry Trotz's next c...
Updated: 4 hours ago
How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

How the Rays really won Tuesday’s game over Astros

There was some interesting inside baseball elements that factored into the late innings of Tuesday's 2-1 Rays win.* First, on Matt Duffy's double off reliever Hector Rondon to lead off the eighth.Duffy said he doesn't like "to guess" what a pitcher i...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

Rays’ Kevin Kiermaier returns, with energy to spare

HOUSTON — Energy.That's what Kevin Kiermaier said he felt he'd provide most in rejoining the Rays Tuesday against the Astros after missing two-plus months recovering from thumb surgery."I like to think I bring energy on both sides of the ball, ...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

Rays journal: Blake Snell outlasts Justin Verlander in 2-1 win

HOUSTON — The starting pitcher walked seven over seven otherwise solid innings Tuesday. That seemed weird enough for the Rays. Then the next pitcher they brought in was the one who started Monday's game. Even more bizarre.And then there was thi...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

Marc Topkin’s takeaways from Rays-Astros

This is how odd LHP Blake Snell's night was — he became the first pitcher to work seven or more innings and walk at least seven since Edwin Jackson threw his 149-pitch, eight-walk no-hitter at the Rays on June 25, 2010.If you weren't aware of t...
Published: 06/19/18
For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

For starters: Rays at Astros, with Kiermaier back and an ace-high matchup

UPDATE, 6:45: Cash said Smith will continue to play a lot, getting time in LF and RF, meaning something of a rotation system for rookie Johnny Field and veteran Carlos Gomez.UPDATE, 4:49: Kiermaier is batting leadoff and playing center as expected, w...
Published: 06/19/18
So, how exactly did the Rays end up losing Monday?

So, how exactly did the Rays end up losing Monday?

The Rays lost Monday's game when Sergio Romo failed them in the ninth inning.Called on to protect what was whittled to a one-run lead from 4-0, Romo got off to a bad start, walking the first batter on four pitches and then allowing a single to the se...
Published: 06/19/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays continue to struggle in close games

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Rays continue to struggle in close games

The Rays blow a four-run lead in Houston and lose on a walkoff hit to the Astros in the opener of their three-game series. It's the 19th one-run loss for the Rays this season as they continue to struggle in close games. Fortunately, reinforcements ar...
Published: 06/19/18
Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

Rays DFA Rob Refsnyder to make room for Kevin Kiermaier

The Rays made official after Monday's game that CF Kevin Kiermaier would be activated on Tuesday.And to make room on the 40- and 25 man rosters, they designated for assignment OF Rob Refsnyder.Acquired from the Indians for cash considerations just be...
Published: 06/19/18
Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

Rays journal: A 4-0 lead disappears in loss at Houston

HOUSTON — The Rays brought up several of their top prospects so they can get as much experience as possible.And Monday that included seeing how the relentless defending champion Astros worked their way back from an early four-run deficit to sco...
Published: 06/18/18
Updated: 06/19/18