ST. PETERSBURG -- The Yankees' bats were quieted as the Rays snapped New York's four-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory in front of a packed -- and very pro-Yankees -- crowd at Tropicana Field on Friday night.
Yankees starter Carsten Sabathia took the loss despite doing yeoman's work for 5 1/3 innings. The 37-year-old lefty scattered nine hits, allowing two runs (one earned) while striking out four.
"It was kind of a weird outing," Sabathia said. "I felt like I made pitches when I needed to to try and keep us in the game, but there were too many baserunners."
Sabathia found himself having to make big pitches to escape a handful of jams. The first came in the first inning after consecutive singles to center field by Matt Duffy and Wilson Ramos put men on the corners with one out. Sabathia struck out Rays cleanup hitter C.J. Cron but walked Jake Bauers to load the bases. Sabathia was able to coax a weak line drive to second base from Daniel Robertson to end the threat and keep the Rays off the board.
The Rays got the leadoff man aboard again in the second after a single by Carlos Gomez. Sabathia was able to get a strike-him-out-throw-him-out double play on the next batter, Willy Adames.
"In some ways, I continue to be amazed by him," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "He owns so much of who he is at this point in his career and he has such command with what he is doing on the mound that it is fun to watch him. He's gotten so good at missing the barrel and using the entire strike zone with all of his pitches."
Sabathia put himself in a jam again in the fourth. Robertson doubled down the left-field line. Sabathia then hit Gomez in the hand with a high inside cutter before Adames singled in the first run of the game.The next batter, Johnny Field, grounded to third baseman Miguel Andujar, who was able to get Gomez into a rundown at home for a fielder's choice.
Duffy started things off against Sabathia in the fifth, slapping a changeup back up the middle and off the leg of Sabathia, who then committed a throwing error to allow Duffy to advance to second.The next batter, Ramos, chopped a bouncer toward third that took an awkward hop off the artificial turf past Andujar to put men on the corners with no outs. Cron lined a hanging slider from Sabathia to deep right field, but Giancarlo Stanton was able to make a leaping catch to turn possible extra bases into a sacrifice fly.
"Despite them finding some holes and creating traffic, to be able to scatter the kind of hits he did and still only allow the two runs, you can't ask for much more than that," Boone said. "Usually that's enough for our offense."
That offense never came, however, as the Yankees managed just five hits against six Rays relievers.
"It's a little backwards, a little different, but it is what it is," outfielder Brett Gardner said of Tampa Bay's bullpen days.
The Yankees finally broke through against Rays reliever Chaz Roe in the top of the seventh. Gleyber Torres took a one-out walk and moved to third on a single by Gardner. Aaron Judge brought in New York's first run of the game with an RBI single to right.
Prior to that inning the Yankees had managed just two hits -- a single by Gardner to lead off the game against Ryne Stanek and a double off the wall in left-center by Aaron Hicks to lead off the second inning against Ryan Yarbrough.
"I thought we had some decent at-bats with runners out there, we just couldn't really break through tonight," Boone said. "Otherwise, we held them at bay enough to usually get a 'W' for us."
Gardner, who had missed the last five games because of inflammation in his knee, went 2-for-5 in his return.
WARREN WINS 12-PITCH BATTLE
After Sabathia departed with one out and a man on in the bottom of the sixth, reliever Adam Warren allowed a single by Adames and walk to Kevin Kiermaier to load the bases for Duffy, who came into the game batting .346 in June. With a full count and the runners on the move, Duffy grounded out to shortstop on the 12th pitch of the at-bat.
Friday's loss was just the fifth time this season that the Yankees have lost a game in which they allowed four runs or fewer. Their 40 wins in those situations this season are the most in the Major Leagues. It also marked their ninth straight road game in which they allowed four runs or fewer.
HE SAID IT
"I think he's having as much fun as he's ever had in his career pitching. He has to pitch. He can't just go out there and overwhelm people with his stuff or with his presence. No, he's got to game plan and execute pitches through a different level than he did in the past, and I think he really enjoys that. He enjoys thinking about that competition." -- Boone, on Sabathia
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY
When Adames singled home the Rays' first run in the bottom of the fourth, he was called out at second on Ramos' throw after Stanton tried to get the out at the plate. The Rays challenged, and after a review of one minute, 12 seconds, the call on the field was overturned.
The Yankees will continue their set at the Trop on Saturday with an afternoon tilt starting at 4:10 p.m. ET. Sonny Gray (5-4, 4.89 ERA) will try to win back-to-back starts for the first time this season after picking up the victory against the Nationals with a five-inning, two-run performance on Monday. Gray is 1-0 with a 2.19 ERA in four career starts at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay will use a bullpen-day approach for a second straight game, with righty Wilmer Font (0-3, 7.56 ERA) opening things up.