NEW YORK -- It was an afternoon of losses at Yankee Stadium on Thursday. James Paxton’s bid for a no-hitter evaporated before he reported discomfort in the area of his forearm and elbow, Gleyber Torres departed with an injured left hamstring and the Yankees slipped out of first place in the American League East.
Combined with an announcement that Friday’s Subway Series game has been postponed due to the Mets’ positive COVID-19 tests, Thursday’s 10-5 loss to the Rays provided a dizzying series of developments for the Yankees, who absorbed a sweep of the three-game series and fell a half-game back in the division race.
“It's unfortunate,” said reliever Adam Ottavino, who allowed three runs and was tagged with the loss. “We’re going to have to find a way to have better outcomes. We play [the Rays] three more times and there's plenty of season left, so I'm not really worried. It’s definitely a little frustrating to get thoroughly beaten like that.”
After four sharp innings, alternating between a low-90s fastball and offspeed pitches in the mid- to high 70s, Paxton’s effort soured in a three-run fifth. He issued two walks and uncorked a wild pitch to set up Joey Wendle’s two-run double and a sacrifice fly.
Catcher Erik Kratz noticed Paxton rubbing his elbow and forearm during a mound visit.
“It seemed like it was the last couple of pitches,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I was taking him out of the game and then I saw him just walking off, flexing his hand a little bit. I said, ‘Is your elbow all right?’ And he said, ‘It tightened up on me.’”
Paxton and Torres have both been sent for MRIs. A potential free agent after the season, Paxton returned from surgery on his lower back performed in February and has a 6.64 ERA through five starts. The Yankees’ injured list has added left-hander Zack Britton, infielder DJ LeMahieu and outfielder Aaron Judge within the last week.
“We’ve got to just keep grinding,” Luke Voit said. “I believe in this clubhouse. It's a part of the game. It’s crazy that this is happening again, but we're going to fight through it.”
New York’s bullpen allowed the Rays to bat around in a five-run sixth. Mike Zunino’s three-run homer off Luis Avilán was the big blow for Tampa Bay, which has defeated the Yankees in six of seven games this season. Yandy Díaz added a two-run homer off Luis Cessa in the ninth to put the game out of reach.
The Yankees had not been swept at Yankee Stadium in a series of three or more games since the Indians won three straight from Aug. 28-30, 2017. But Kratz said that even if the Yankees lose Paxton and, potentially, Torres, they will continue to believe that they can compete.
“It’s always just the next guy up,” Kratz said. “A blizzard of injuries means that a bunch of guys will come off the IL. Nobody’s going to stop the games for us.”
Prior to Paxton’s departure, the Yanks’ concern was mostly centered on Torres, who stumbled while running to first base on an RBI groundout in the third inning.
Torres received ice treatment during the game, and Boone expressed optimism that Torres will not require a stint on the IL.
“I’m just hoping for the best and that it’s not something serious, which I don’t believe it is with Gleyber,” Boone said. “I think it was a quick movement that just tightened up on him a little bit.”
Hot hand Luke
Voit continues to swing a hot bat, homering for the fifth time in four games while notching his first three-hit game of the season. He slugged a solo homer in the first inning off opener John Curtiss, singled and scored on Gio Urshela’s two-run homer in the fifth, and added a run-scoring hit in the sixth.
With six homers and 13 RBIs during his 10-game hitting streak, Voit said that the Yankees discussed their struggles with runners in scoring position during a pregame hitters’ meeting. The club was 1-for-21 with RISP during the Tampa Bay series.
“We still had plenty of runners out there in scoring position,” Voit said. “As a team, we just didn’t get it done. We were lacing balls, too. Sometimes you’ve just got to fight through it and eventually it’ll come out good.”