Game 98: NYY vs. TB — Not so sharp Severino or Rays’ bullpen strategy

Yesterday’s finale against the Mets was rained out due to the stream of thunderstorms once again plaguing the East Coast. So they postponed the game for next month to conclude that series and headed down to their next series, a brief road trip against the Rays. And though it’s been quite stormy in the Tampa area too, the Rays are the only completely domed stadium in MLB (a roof with no retraction capabilities), so the game carried on.

Like the Yankees (and other teams at this point in the year), the Rays are down a starter. But instead of calling up a young pitcher from their farm system or finding one on the free agent market or as a result of a trade, they are playing a bit of puzzle pieces by loading up their everyday roster with bullpen pitchers and then splitting a few games a week between the bullpen.

The obvious disadvantage to this is when a starter has a bad day and they need the bullpen to back him up only to see its depletion firsthand. Or you know, finding out yet another starter is headed for the DL (as they did this week). And I’m glad I’m not writing for them or we’d have way more than a paragraph for the season.

Anyway, for the opener at the Trop, it would be Luis Severino vs. the Rays’ bullpen. And in a weird twist of fate, Severino had a rather bad night. He threw 96 pitches into the 6th inning, gave up a whopping 11 hits and 7 runs (6 earned), and still struck out 8 Rays’ batters to earn just his 3rd loss of the season.

In the 1st, he gave up a 2-out double that ended up scoring from 2nd base on a passed ball that kicked off Sanchez’s cleat almost to 3rd base. Then, he held them off until the 5th — with 1 out, 2 singles ended up scoring on a big 3-run home run. A solo shot led-off his 6th inning before a double and single put runners on the corners and Severino was forced to hand the game over to the Yankees’ bullpen.

Chad Green had some trouble keeping the Rays from adding to their lead. He gave up a single that scored the first runner, and then after an out, a failed double play (just a ground out at 2nd) allowed the other runner from Severino to score, ultimately the game-changers. But then Warren and Cole threw scoreless innings to close out the game.

Meanwhile, the rotating door on the bullpen didn’t keep the Yankees from doing their job. In the 2nd, Stanton led-off with a double and later scored on Miguel Andujar’s 2-out single. The game stayed tied for a bit, but after the Rays regained their lead, the Yankees chipped away at it.

In the 6th, with 2 outs, Giancarlo Stanton singled and ended up at 3rd when the Rays made a sloppy fielding error on Hicks’ hit. After a pitching change, the new reliever threw a passed ball that allowed Stanton to score, and Gary Sanchez’s long single scored Hicks.

The 7th inning ended up being the Yankees’ biggest offensive opportunity. With 1 out, they loaded the bases with walks to Walker, Gardner, and Judge. Another new reliever got Didi Gregorius to ground out, while the runners all moved up to scoring position and Walker scored. Stanton then singled home Gardner and Judge.

Down just a run, the Yankees’ final opportunity was basically handed to them, but they didn’t come through. Gardner led-off the 9th with a single, Judge walked, and they both moved to scoring position on Gregorius’ sacrifice bunt. The Rays opted to intentionally walk Stanton (a good decision on their part as Stanton was on fire tonight, going 4-for-4 with a walk, 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored).

So the bases were loaded. Hicks hit into a little grounder and the Rays snapped into defense getting Gardner out at home. Then Sanchez hit a little grounder the Rays mishandled for the out at 2nd, but Sanchez did not run full-out to 1st and the ball beat him there for the final out. The game should’ve been tied at that point. I’m not really sure there are any words for that play other than Girardi’s old go-to phrase “it’s not what you want”.

Final score: 7-6 Rays

Roster moves: following the game on Saturday, after his great call-up story, the Yankees optioned Domingo Acevedo back to AA Trenton. They recalled Giovanny Gallegos from AAA Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Go Yankees!

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