Yanks have too much firepower for Rays

Late comeback effort falls short for TB, which finishes its homestand 6-3

May 12th, 2024

ST. PETERSBURG -- The Rays weren’t just defeated Sunday afternoon. They were overpowered.

The Yankees clubbed five home runs -- two by No. 8 hitter Jose Trevino -- and slammed the Rays, 10-6, at Tropicana Field. Four of the five homers came from the bottom four hitters in New York's lineup, in addition to a two-run shot from Aaron Judge.

“They have a bunch of guys who had a track record of hitting and putting the ball in play,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “At the back end of their order or midway through, they’ve got a lot of high-contact hitters. So you don’t get the swing and miss [like other lineups]. They hit the ball, move it around and put pressure on us.’’

“I mean, it’s the big leagues, right?’’ said Rays starter (1-2), who fell behind 6-0 after five innings and surrendered three of the homers. “Just because you’re hitting seventh, eighth or ninth doesn’t mean you belong in Triple-A. Against the Yankees, you can’t fall behind or lose your focus, no matter where you are in the order. And I didn’t do a good enough job of that today.’’

The Rays, held to three hits through six innings, finally showed some life in the seventh, when they sent 11 batters to the plate and nearly overcame a 6-0 deficit.

Jose Siri’s first career grand slam, a Statcast-projected 411-foot shot off Yankees reliever Caleb Ferguson with one out, made it 6-4. The Rays scored another run without putting the ball in play. Reliever Nick Burdi walked Yandy Díaz and Josh Lowe, then loaded the bases by plunking Randy Arozarena with a 1-2 pitch.

Luke Weaver, the Yankees’ third reliever of the inning, promptly forced in a run when his full-count offering grazed off the bill of Isaac Paredes’ batting helmet, making it 6-5.

Weaver settled down to retire the next two batters -- including Richie Palacios on a fly ball to short right field, when Lowe tagged and went down the line, then thought better of it -- and the Rays’ rally was done.

Soon after that, so was the game.

The Yankees answered with a four-run eighth inning, featuring a three-run homer by Gleyber Torres off Shawn Armstrong, then a solo shot by Trevino off Erasmo Ramírez.

Díaz led off the Rays’ ninth with a solo shot of his own, his second homer in as many games, but that was just window dressing.

“I didn’t execute my pitches, and I didn’t do my job,’’ Armstrong said. “Our offense did an outstanding job in coming back. They keep doing what they’re doing and we’re going to win a lot of ballgames.’’

The Rays’ offense was mostly held in check by Yankees starter Luis Gil (4-1), who tossed six scoreless innings and departed after a 91-pitch effort (53 strikes).

“Gil has really good stuff,’’ Cash said. “That guy is only going to get better with the stuff that he’s featuring from 95 to 100 miles an hour, the fastball, a good feel for the changeup. You understand why there were some struggles early in the ballgame.’’

Siri, coming into his seventh-inning at-bat mired in a 3-for-45 slump, transformed those struggles into excitement.

“He has been going through it a bit, so I’m really encouraged and happy for him,’’ Cash said.

“Little by little, the hard work is paying off,’’ Siri said through team interpreter Manny Navarro. “It’s good to see some results.’’

Lost in the result, Cash said, was the gutsy work of Alexander, who needed 90 pitches (64 strikes) to last seven innings.

“I give Tyler a lot of credit that he was able to be efficient enough to get as deep as he did in the game,’’ Cash said. “I know the game changed, but at 6-0, we could’ve had to blow through our bullpen. He stayed at it. I’m sure he’s not happy about the home runs and falling behind the guys. But he competed.’’

The Rays will head to Boston after a 6-3 homestand in which they believe they could’ve gotten another win or two. But they came in off a 1-5 road trip, so Cash said the club’s confidence has a more positive trajectory.

“I thought we played really well,’’ Cash said. “I feel like we’re heading into the road trip a better team than we were when we came here.’’

“I thought we got some momentum from this homestand,’’ Lowe said. “We showed some really good life and some stuff we haven’t really been doing recently. I think we can build on that.’’