Game 74: NYY vs. TB — Shutout on Throwback Saturday

Well, that was disappointing.

The Rays began as a franchise 20 years ago, making this their 21st season as a major league team. Originally, they were dubbed the “Devil Rays”, their mascot a sort of large sting ray. In the last 2 decades, that has evolved into a sun ray, which looks more like a starburst or sparkle on the word “Rays”, now the official name of the team.

Now, technically, there is no real thing as a “devil ray”. There is a “devil fish“, which is an endangered species of ray due to its low reproduction rate and sensitivity to environmental alterations (like pollution and overfishing) in its native Mediterranean. In other words, this creature the team decided to honor originally isn’t part of the Florida ecosystem and is misnamed. So, transitioning to a nod to the “Sunshine State” makes a nice way to justify the name without terribly changing the name.

However, because of last season being its 20th anniversary season, the Rays rediscovered their own nostalgia for their original colors, theme, and name. So for this season, they announced that they would don a new/old “throwback” jersey and hat for 4 Saturday home games this year. Today was the third, and many Rays players are really getting into the theme by adding socks and other accessories (sweatbands, gloves, warm-ups, etc.) on those days.

It might be considered good luck as they’ve now won 2 of the 3 games they’ve played on these throwback days, the loss being a slim 1-run margin. Or maybe it’s because they’ve been playing a weird game of relying strongly on their bullpen due to a lack of healthy starters.

Sonny Gray had a sort of mixed outing. When he was hot, he was really good and set the Rays down with relative ease. When he wasn’t, they scored runs. He threw 101 pitches into the 7th inning, giving up 6 hits, a walk, and 4 runs and striking out 7 batters along the way.

In the 1st, a lead-off single scored on a 1-out double complicated by a throwing error. A lead-off double in the 2nd scored on a double. A bunt moved that runner to 3rd and a single scored him. After fending off the Rays for 15 consecutive batters, Gray gave up a 2-out solo home run just barely left of the right field foul pole.

It was time to shift to Chasen Shreve, who has been struggling lately and continued his struggles in the 7th inning. All he needed was 1 out to get out of the inning. Instead, he loaded up the bases with a walk, a single, and another walk before getting a beautiful strikeout to finally get out of the inning and his self-induced jam. Chad Green had his own issues in the 8th, giving up a couple of hits to put runners in scoring position before getting a great strikeout to end that threat.

Meanwhile, the Yankees bats were virtually silent against the Rays pitchers. Their starter threw into the 6th inning, only giving up 3 hits and a walk. Later in that inning, last night’s starter (who only threw an inning) came in for 4 outs. They just kept shifting relievers to balance the rest of the game and keep the Yankees scoreless this afternoon.

Final score: 4-0 Rays

With today’s loss, the Yankees are guaranteed a loss of this series. They haven’t lost a series since the May 21-23 against the Rangers in Texas. They have split several series along the way, but mostly, they’re riding high on generally winning most series this season so far.

Many of the talking heads are making the easy comparison to the 1998 championship team. And that makes sense to me too. At this point in the 1998 season (Game 74), the Yankees were 55-19. Currently, the 2018 Yankees are 50-24. Things evened out a bit for the 1998 Yankees after the All-Star Break, ending the season with 114 wins. If the 2018 Yankees stay on their path, they could potentially win 109 games this season. This would make them a shoo-in for the postseason, and this team deserves the same attention and chance.

But there is still so much of the season left. The season is so very long, and we’re not even at the half-way point. Just shy of it, actually, at 46.25% of the season done. And really, with the combination of crazy weather this year, potential injuries, and just your run-of-the-mill bad luck and streaks, there is really nothing predictable about baseball. It’s still anyone’s game.

Except maybe the Orioles and Royals, who’ve only won 23 games this year. But never say never. Right, Cubs fans?

Go Yankees!

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