Yankees Postgame Notebook: Unlucky 13th leads to 14-inning loss to Rays

Yankees' struggles with runners in scoring position lead to extra-inning loss
05/03/2014 1:30 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Yankees' starter Vidal Nuno pitches against the Rays on Friday.(AP)
After playing a doubleheader in Boston Thursday and not getting to New York until 3 a.m., the last thing the Tampa Bay Rays wanted was a Friday night marathon at Yankee Stadium - especially with a Saturday afternoon game on tap the next day.

Unfortunately, a marathon is what they got, as it took nearly six hours, a second seventh-inning stretch, and a final frame where they sent 10 men to the plate against Chris Leroux before the Rays finally knocked off the New York Yankees, 10-5, in 14 innings.

"It's tough. We had some opportunities, but it was a strange game," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said of the loss. "Later on we weren't able to get it done, but the guys kept fighting until the end. It's unfortunate."

Early on, Rays' starter David Price all but stymied the Yankees, scattering eight hits over seven innings and allowing only one big blow - Brian McCann's two-run homer in the second - while the Yankees got 4 2/3 serviceable innings out of Vidal Nuno and a yeoman's performance out of the bullpen, which saw the first six relievers allow just one run over 7 1/3 innings and strike out 10 against just two walks.

"Nuno did okay; he gave us almost five innings," Girardi said of Nuno. "We lost a ball in the twilight which led to a couple runs for them, which was unfortunate, but I thought he threw the ball okay."

Magic finally happened in the eighth, as Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano hit back-to-back solo homers to tie the game at 4-4, and after a David Robertson hiccup in the ninth, Brian Roberts got aboard and Jacoby Ellsbury laced an RBI single with two outs in the bottom of the frame to send it to extra innings.

The Yankees had three really good chances to win it in the 11th, 12th and 13th, but they were unable to cash in on any of them, as winning pitcher Heath Bell played the role of Houdini. He got the Rays out of a second and third, two-out jam in the 11th, pitched his way around his own shaky defense and a ridiculous rundown in the 12th, and then loaded the bases before finally getting Derek Jeter to ground out to end the 13th.

In the end, the Yankees were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position on the night, and 0-for-7 in the final four innings.

"I don't know, maybe it's just trying to do a little too much," Girardi said of that stat. "There's going to be days like this, times when your offense struggles, and you have to try to find a way to scratch across some runs and win a game. We didn't."

And, to make matters worse, despite 18 hits, the Yankees watched as Jeter went 0-for-7, the last out eventually snuffing out the possibility of a win for good.

"He didn't get any hits tonight; there's going to be nights like that, it's part of the game," Girardi said. "You just have to try to bounce back the next day."

The Rays then finally exploded on Chris Leroux in the 13th, sending 10 to the plate and having seven of the first eight batters reach in what ended up as a five-run inning.

From there it was a mere formality, as the few intrepid fans who stayed the whole way watched Josh Lueke give up a leadoff single to Carlos Beltran before retiring Teixeira, Soriano, and McCann in order to send the Yankees to their third-straight loss.

First pitch for Saturday's game was barely 12 hours after Friday's ended, and with both teams exhausting their available bullpens tonight, length from both Masahiro Tanaka and Jake Odorizzi will be of tantamount importance.

"Our bullpen's a mess, no doubt about it, so what it does for us tomorrow is mean we need some distance out of our starter for sure," Girardi said. "And I'm sure there will be some conversations tonight."

It was not the way Joe Girardi envisioned his 1,000th game as Yankees manager, but as they say, there's always number 1,001.

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