Time and time again, the Yankees have had the chance to make a statement by wrapping up a potentially season-defining sweep. Time and time again, they’ve taken that chance and flushed it down the toilet. One notable exception was when they swept the White Sox in May as part of a six-game winning streak after Corey Kluber’s no-hitter. Kluber got hurt immediately after that, and that team has gone 25-29 since then.
That run includes a three-game sweep of the middling Blue Jays in Buffalo in mid-June, but that went nowhere, as well. Opportunities against the Astros, Mariners, and Rays have fallen by the wayside. Even lesser teams like the Twins and Orioles have thwarted them. But I’ll give the Yankees this: on Thursday, they found a brand new way to fall on their face on getaway day.
With their ace on the hill aiming for a sweep and the clubhouse energized after the trade for Joey Gallo was finalized, the Yankees promptly got annihilated by the Rays, 14-0. It was a catastrophe.
Gerrit Cole was down 4-0 before a single out was recorded. A towering shot by Brandon Lowe on the first pitch sailed over the right-field foul pole, and after some deliberation, was called a foul ball. It was a fortunate break on an absolute bomb, and Cole did nothing with it. Lowe reached on an infield single, Ji-Man Choi walked, Yandy Diaz scored Lowe with a base hit up the middle, and Austin Meadows put the cap on it with a three-run shot:
The Rays could’ve stopped at the Diaz single and called it a day because the Yankees accomplished diddly-squat against Rays starter Luis Patino, who is a well-regarded prospect but carried a career ERA of 5.23 across 43 innings entering today.
Rather than feasting on the rookie, the Yankees decided to take a relaxing afternoon nap. The right-hander tossed six shutout innings, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out eight batters. The only real threat came in the second, with Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner on after a pair of singles. Kyle Higashioka struck out, and Estevan Florial lined out to end the mini-threat. The Yankees were then held hitless until the eighth, when the score was 14-0.
Oh, did I not mention That One Inning?
Yeah. It was terrible. The 14 runs allowed on the day was a season-worst for Yankees pitching, and they allowed 10 in the sixth alone.
Cole had actually calmed down after the Meadows homer, allowing just one hit from then until the sixth. But what a sixth it was in St. Pete. The Rays came surging back against Cole with singles from Meadows and Randy Arozarena, a walk to Wander Franco, and a Kevin Kiermaier “sacrifice fly” ended Cole’s outing after 105 pitches.
Sacrifice fly is in quotation marks because it was scored that way despite no out recorded. The inexplicably-not-to-pasture-yet Gardner did this:
Egad. I repeat this request to Mr. Gallo:
All inherited runners scored, so Cole’s final line was ugly as hell: 5.1 innings, six hits, and eight runs allowed (seven earned). Barring disaster, he’s probably still going to be in Cy Young contention, but this very well could be a start to sink him from leading consideration — not that any Yankees fan really cares about that right now.
All three runners scored because rookie Albert Abreu had nothing today. Nothing whatsoever. It’s a bit of a shame since he entered Thursday with a commendable 1.88 ERA and 0.767 WHIP across 14.1 innings of work. It’s not a lot, but it’s good!
Now? Not so much. Here’s the rundown:
Batter 1: Mike Zunino walk to load the bases
Batter 2: Brett Phillips grand slam (10-0, Rays)
Batter 3: Brandon Lowe walk
Batter 4: Ji-Man Choi two-run homer (12-0, Rays)
Batter 5: Yandy Diaz single
Batter 6: Austin Meadows two-run homer (14-0, Rays)
Abreu left after Meadows’ second dinger of the afternoon. The game was effectively over, though kudos go out to newcomers Sal Romano and Clay Holmes for ensuring that no further embarrassments happened due to Rays hitters for the rest of the game.
At least it only counts as one loss, but add another to the chronicle of bad, bad days in the 2021 Yankees season. It was disappointing enough to not finish the sweep with Cole on the mound, but to get pantsed like this is downright humiliating.
For approximately the 629th time this year, the Yankees will look to pick up the pieces and rebound, this time on Friday night in Miami. Gallo will be in the lineup, and it remains to be seen if any further company will join him. Jameson Taillon will get the start against Marlins righty Zach Thompson at 7:10pm ET.
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