("We should probably take you out, but you wanna stay in and give up another home run?" Courtesy of the AP)
The Yankees were riding high on their way into Tampa. Winners of 5 in a row, 6 of their last 7 against AL East rivals, and 11 of their last 14 overall. But they were stepping into a zone of danger against Tampa starter Chris Archer last night. After an uneven start to his season, he seemed to find his stride in July and August and he's been a big reason why the Rays have stayed at the forefront of the playoff race while dealing with a never-ending string of injuries to their starting rotation. He's also already beaten the Yankees twice this season. Joe stacked lefties at the top of his batting order last night to try to jump on Archer early, but the result was the same as it was the other 2 times.
- Quick start for the Yankee offense. Brett Gardner walked, stole second, and scored on a 2-out Alfonso Soriano single in the top of the 1st and the Yanks had a lead.
- Tough start for Hiroki Kuroda. He was struggling with his slider command in the bottom of the 2nd and it got him into trouble. With 2 on and 2 out, he hung a first-pitch slider to Jose Lobaton and watched it turn into a 3-run homer to erase the lead.
- The command never came for Hirok in the following innings. He gave up 2 more runs on solo homers in the 3rd, a run in the 4th, and another in the 5th on his 4th (!!) HR allowed on the night. He pitched 6 innings, but that had more to do with the 'pen needing rest than anything else.
- Much like the last time they faced him in July, the Yankee lineup didn't have anything for Archer. He only gave up 2 more hits through the next 5 innings, one of them a triple by Gardner to lead off the 6th that led to the second Yankee run.
- A run differential of 5 or more runs in either direction means it's Joba Time and Joe used him wisely to bring this stinker home. Naturally, Joba worked 2 perfect innings with nothing on the line.
- Gardner: 2-2, 1 3B, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SB. Good thing Brett showed up last night. Would have been a shutout without him.
- Eduardo Nunez: 2-3. Had 2 of the other 3 Yankee hits and managed to not hurt his hamstring worse and bring the short bench into play.
- Kuroda: 6 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 3 K. Easily Hirok's worst start of the season. He didn't have anything and he wasn't fooling any of the Rays hitters. He's allowed a start like this every now and then with how good he's been since first joining the Yankees. It just makes it that much tougher for the Yanks to stay in contention when he has a poor outing.
- The Rest of the Lineup: Combined 1-25, 1 BB, 5 K, 4 LOB. Bats apparently didn't make the trip down from New York. Maybe they'll show up tomorrow.
Big lefty matchup in the second game of the series tonight. CC Sabathia and David Price. That's a lotta lefty.