Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Rays fall to New York Yankees 7-3

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays knew they'd miss left-handed reliever J.P. Howell, who is difficult to replace because of his reliability in retiring hitters on both sides of the plate.

And Sunday's 7-3 loss to the Yankees in front of 31,243 at Tropicana Field was a perfect illustration of how Howell's absence can loom so large, as the Rays (3-3) watched a one-run lead in the sixth disappear in a hurry.

With Howell out until at least mid May with shoulder weakness, the Rays have had to lean more on their only remaining lefty in the bullpen — Randy Choate — in high-leverage situations.

Choate, who struggled in giving up four runs on five hits (and threw 24 pitches) in Saturday's loss, was called upon again in Sunday's most critical moment — the Rays clinging to a 2-1 lead in the sixth with one out, a runner on second and four straight left-handed (or switch) hitters due up for New York.

Two hits, including a two-run homer by Jorge Posada, later, the Yankees took a lead they'd never relinquish. All of a sudden, the Rays' 3-1 start to the season turned into two straight losses to the Yankees (by a combined score of 17-3), with a tough 10-game road trip beginning today in Baltimore.

"No question, J.P.'s absence is felt right now," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "That inning was very critical to get it done and get out of that to keep the lead, and we just didn't do it."

Maddon has confidence in Choate and the others to pick it up. The veteran lefty, who has given up seven hits to the past nine batters he has faced, says he's fine physically, but he has strayed from his strengths.

"My (sinker) just hasn't been there, and I'm kind of pitching like somebody I'm not, trying to go into these righties a lot more than maybe I should," Choate said. "I'm a sinkerball pitcher, and if the ball ain't sinking, that causes for some bad results."

Rays right-hander James Shields had a solid outing but wished he could have lasted longer than 51/3 innings. Like last season, he didn't get much run support as the Rays, nearly no-hit Saturday by CC Sabathia, scattered nine hits (including two by Pat Burrell) but stranded seven runners (six by B.J. Upton, who ended an inning four times).

"We just didn't play the way we can play — and that's it," rightfielder Ben Zobrist said.

Maddon liked a lot of what he saw from the Rays during the season-opening six-game homestand, from his team's intensity and fight to strong starting pitching and impressive plays defensively (Carl Crawford made another spectacular running catch Sunday).

But Maddon said they have to score more so they don't put too much pressure on their pitchers every night, and their bullpen (7.78 ERA), although taxed by 72/3 innings Thursday, needs to be better late.

That includes Choate, who rejuvenated his career last season largely because of the confidence Maddon showed in him. He's ready to bounce back and prove while "I'm not claiming to be J.P.," he can be a guy Maddon can trust in those spots.

"Unfortunately," Choate said. "The last two days, it hasn't gone my way."

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected]

Yankees 7

Rays 3

Tampa Bay Rays fall to New York Yankees 7-3 04/11/10 [Last modified: Sunday, April 11, 2010 9:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Roger Mooney's takeaways from Saturday's Lightning-Penguins game

    Lightning Strikes

    Man, is Nikita Kucherov fun to watch. He has a goal in all but one game this season and points in all nine. You have to watch him each time he is on the ice because he is going to do something you do not want to miss: a goal, a shot that requires a tough save, a nifty pass to set up a linemate for a goal.

  2. No. 20 UCF beats Navy 31-21 for first 6-0 start

    College

    ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Central Florida finally had been tested in a tight game, and someone wondered if coach Scott Frost enjoyed seeing how his team reacted to the situation.

    Freshman  Otis Anderson gives UCF plenty of reasons to celebrate after scoring the final touchdown of the game to clinch bowl eligibility for the Knights.
  3. No. 8 Miami survives Syracuse test, beats Orange 27-19

    College

    MIAMI GARDENS — By Miami's new standards, this game was decided early.

    Sophomore Travis Homer on Miami’s hot start: “We’re 6-0, but that’s not our final goal. That’s not going to get to our head.”
  4. Stroud: Bucs need to stop digging holes on road

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    HARVARD SQUARED: Tight end Cameron Brate catches a TD from Ryan Fitzpatrick.
  5. Topkin: A busy offseason for Rays approaching as postseason winds down

    The Heater

    Tuesday's opening of the World Series means the end of the postseason is in sight and that the offseason maneuvering, which starts five days after the final out, can soon evolve from talk to action.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi smiles at Minnesota Twins' Joe Mauer after Mauer broke up Odorizzi's no-hit bid with a single during the seventh inning of a baseball game Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)