By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 25- The Yanks lost a must-win game to the Tampa Rays on Tuesday night. The Yanks entered the contest trailing four teams for a Wild Card spot in the American League, Tampa and Cleveland by four games, Texas by three and Kansas City by one.
The Rays wasted no time before putting runs up on the board. The game’s lead-off batter, Matt Joyce, hit the third pitch thrown by Yankee starter Hiroki Kuroda into the right field stands.
Rookie Will Myers followed with a single to center. He was driven across the plate by a double to right by David DeJesus. The latter moved to third on the outfield throw and scored as the next batter, Evan Longoria hit a sacrifice fly to deep right field. The three runs in the first were sufficient to ensure the victory.
Kuroda settled down and retired 15 of 16 batters from the first through five innings. Longoria was the only Tampa batter to reach base during that stretch as he was safe on an error by Yankee third sacker Eduardo Nuñez in the fifth.
Myers walked to begin the sixth. The base on balls was the first issued by Kuroda during the contest. With one down, Longoria doubled to left and Ben Zobrist was intentionally walked to load the bases. A double by James Loney knocked in two runs to give the Rays a 5-0 advantage.
The visitors added two more runs in the ninth.
Although the Rays starter Matt Moore exhibited wildness during his five innings, six walks and three wild pitches, he did not allow a runner to cross the plate. The major league sophomore had another one of his impressive performances, which earned him his eighth victory in his last nine decisions.
Moore only gave up three hits in his five innings of work. The first Yankee hit was a single by Ichiro in the third. Two more singles by Alfonso Soriano and Nuñez were hit in the fifth.
The game was the 20th of Moore’s 26 starts in 2013 in which he held the opposing team to six hits or less. The 24 year-old is undefeated, 16-0, in those 20 starts. He is obviously not suffering from the “sophomore jinx.” If he hid not been on the disabled list for more than one month earlier this summer he very likely may have achieved 20 wins this year.
Clutch hitting was absent while the Yankees batted against Moore. They stranded 10 runners and were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position while Moore was on the mound.
When all of Tuesday’s games ended, The Yanks trailed Tampa and Cleveland by five games with five remaining. Winning all five will not be sufficient for the Yanks unless Tampa and/or Cleveland loss all of their remaining contests.
Phil Hughes (4-13) and David Price (8-8) will be the starting pitchers in game two of the three game set on Wednesday evening.