Game 103: TB vs. NYY — Last minute rally can’t save CC, even with Soriano again

CC Sabathia really didn’t have a very good night. In fact, this quickly became his 3rd game this season to give up 7 runs, a career high. Something just got him in the 2nd inning tonight, something that was just too much for the Yankees’ offense was too much to overcome. Sabathia threw 102 pitches in just 5 innings, allowing 9 hits, 7 runs, 3 walks, and 6 strikeouts.

But again it was the 2nd inning that the Rays just jumped ahead and never looked back — a double; a fly out advancing the runner to 3rd; a double scoring the runner; a pop up; a walk; a single scoring the lead runner; a bunt that should have been a 3rd out became a single, loaded the bases and scored another runner; another double scored 2 more runs; and a single scored a 6th run of the inning before they got that elusive 3rd out of the inning on the batter’s attempt to make his single a double. Needless to say, that wasn’t exactly the most encouraging inning for the Yankees. Sabathia allowed an RBI single in the 5th inning to add to the Rays’ lead at 7.

Adam Warren came into the game in the 6th inning for long-term relief, and did an excellent job with a minor exception. In the 7th inning, a single and walk set the stage for a 3-run home run to skyrocket the Rays to a 10 run score total.

But you can’t fault the Yankees for their efforts in the batter’s box. In the 3rd inning, Brent Lillibridge singled, advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch, and promptly scored (using some really amazing, and dare I say unexpected speed) on Austin Romine’s single. And there the Yankees sat, with their sole run until the 8th inning. Oh, they threatened quite a bit, prompting Tampa to exhaust their bullpen, using 6 pitchers through the entire game. But in the 8th inning, a 2-inning rally certainly made an effort to chip away at the Rays’ double-digits lead. Melky Mesa doubled, David Adams singled home Mesa, Alfonso Soriano (more on him later) grounded into a force out, and Chris Stewart doubled home Soriano. It was now 10-3 Rays, going into the 9th inning.

With one out, Lillibridge singles, Romine walks, Brett Gardner singles and loads the bases, Mesa singles and scores Lillibridge, Adams singles home Romine, Soriano grounds into another force out but scores Gardner, and a final ground out ends the game. This planted the attempted rally 4 runs shy of the Rays, ending the game at 10-6 Tampa.

I will say that the Rays barely out-hit the Yankees 12-11, those numbers alone explain why the Rays went through so many pitchers tonight. But it’s never how many hits you get, but how many times you cross home plate. And if it makes Yankees fans feel any better, after today’s games, Boston fell to Baltimore so Tampa’s win actually made them 1st place in the AL East. And as any Yankee fan will tell you, anyone’s better than Boston, especially if it can’t be you.

Now, for Soriano… that’s right, old Yankee fans, Sori’s back. The Yankees front office spent some time orchestrating a trade with the Cubs for Soriano to return back to his former team. They traded a pitching prospect for Sori, who waived his “no-trade” clause to be back in the Bronx. Soriano played for the Yankees from 1999-2003, where he was part of the trade with Texas the Yankees made for Alex Rodriguez. That’s right, if you’re following along at home, Rodriguez isn’t playing with the Yankees right now, but the guy he essentially replaced is back in action on the team. Soriano traded his infield position for an outfield/DH role, being as he is now 37 (it’s still the tradition to make a big deal about the age of the players, right?). And though he had a less-than-outstanding outing in his re-debut in pinstripes, he is still being seen as a better choice than some of the other options the club has.

But Soriano is a welcome sight in the Bronx, a reminder of good seasons and a great clubhouse rapport. Veterans certainly welcomed him home, and the great Yankee fan base certainly welcomed Sori home tonight. What makes it even more awesome is that Vernon Wells (who has been sporting #12 since signing with the Yankees this Spring) traded numbers with Soriano, so that Sori could have his old number back. So Sori donned #12, and Wells took #22. If anything at all, Soriano is certainly bringing out the best in his new teammates, and I have to say that a good clubhouse always makes for a better team than almost anything else.

And for those curious, the Yankees sent Thomas Neal to AAA Scranton to make room for Soriano on the 25-man roster, while the 40-man roster now sits at an even 40. The juggling of this roster this year must keep the cell phones and computer keyboards in near-perpetual motion. I certainly don’t envy their jobs in the least, and they’ve certainly been working overtime too many times this year already. And it’s not over yet with Jeter, Granderson, Nix, Phelps, Cervelli, and Rodriguez just itching to get back in the game as soon as humanly possible.

And while tonight’s game certainly wasn’t the most encouraging one to watch as a Yankees fan, the end of it certainly proved many of my previous posts right — “never, never, never give up” (thanks to Churchill for the quote). Even if you fail, you don’t want to feel like you just handed over the win without at least trying to win. I love that this year so many of the major plays and runs are being made by the guys you’ve barely heard of and least expect anything from. Because isn’t that what makes minor league ball or even little league special? Not the names, but the game itself and the players working their hardest and making every effort to just do their best in the hope that their best is something truly spectacular. Those are the guys that play the game right, and those are the guys I want to root for and cheer on and see succeed in life.

Go Yankees!

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