ST. PETERSBURG -- For a second consecutive day, the Bronx Bombers were bedeviled by a bevy of Rays bullpen arms. Five Tampa Bay pitchers, clad in throwback Devil Rays uniforms, combined to shut out the Yankees, 4-0, on Saturday afternoon at Tropicana Field.It was another uncharacteristic offensive night for the
ST. PETERSBURG -- For a second consecutive day, the Bronx Bombers were bedeviled by a bevy of Rays bullpen arms. Five Tampa Bay pitchers, clad in throwback Devil Rays uniforms, combined to shut out the Yankees, 4-0, on Saturday afternoon at Tropicana Field.
It was another uncharacteristic offensive night for the Yankees, who came into the game leading the Majors in runs per game (5.23), home runs (122) and slugging percentage (.463). New York has scored just one run in its last 25 innings.
"We've been hitting the ball hard, but straight at people, and we can't do anything about that," said Didi Gregorius, who went 2-for-4. "All we can do is hit the ball hard and try to find a gap. If they fall, they fall."
The Yankees, who managed just four hits on the afternoon, had no answers for Tampa Bay's "bullpen day." Rays starter Wilmer Font kept the New York bats in check for 5 2/3 innings, then four relievers followed suit as the Yankees were shut out for just the second time this season. It was also the first time the Yankees lost back-to-back games since May 22-23.
"Over the course of 162 games, that's going to happen," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "You've just got to keep grinding and come back and have that urgency tomorrow."
Giancarlo Stanton doubled to lead off the second, then advanced to third on Aaron Hicks' flyout to center. But Font struck out Greg Bird and induced a Miguel Andujar groundout to keep the Yankees off the board.
Austin Romine then doubled to lead off the third, but didn't advance past second.
Yankees starter Sonny Gray got off to a rough start for New York but was able to settle down and turn in a respectable performance. Kevin Kiermaier singled to right field to lead off the game, then Jake Bauers brought him in with a double down the left-field line. Consecutive doubles by C.J. Cron and Daniel Robertson to lead off the second and an RBI single by Willy Adames made it a quick three-run deficit for Gray.
However, Gray would settle down thereafter, retiring the next 15 batters before a solo shot by Adames in the in the seventh ended his day. Gray allowed six hits and four earned runs in the losing effort, striking out seven and walking one.
"I think everyone in here felt like we were going to win that game, but at the end of the day, it doesn't happen like that every time," Gray said.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
The Yankees threatened in the top of the fifth after Aaron Judge drew a walk, ending Font's day. Gregorius then chopped an infield single up the middle off Rays reliever Jonny Venters. With two aboard and the tying run at the plate, the Rays brought on fireballer Ryne Stanek to face Stanton. Stanek was able to blow a letter-high, 98.4-mph fastball past the Yankees slugger to end the inning.
Saturday was just the 15th time in 74 games this season that the Yankees did not hit at least one home run, the fewest in the Majors.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS
Leading off the top of the fourth, Gregorius attempted to check his swing on a 97.2-mph fastball from Font that rode up and in on his hands. Gregorius got just enough wood on the ball to pop it over a leaping Adames and into left field for an accidental single.
"I was just trying to get something started," he said. "That's all I was thinking about."
HE SAID IT
"It says June 23 on the [calendar]. ... We're honestly not going to get caught up in that right now." -- Boone, on the Yankees' American League battle vs. the Red Sox
The Yankees turn to righty Domingo German (2-4, 4.77 ERA) on Sunday for their series finale against the Rays at Tropicana Field. German leads all American League rookies in strikeouts this season with 72, including a career-high 10 K's in his last start against Tampa Bay. Matt Andriese is set to serve as the "opener" as the Rays have another bullpen day. Game time is 1:10 p.m. ET.
J. Scott Butherus is a contributor to MLB.com.