The Rays beat the Yankees 13-4 on Friday night in a game that was every bit as ugly as that score would suggest. CC Sabathia, making his first career start with a chance to reach 20 wins, gave up nine runs (five earned) and was pulled with two outs in the third having thrown 82 pitches. Six Yankee relievers followed, with Jonathan Albaladejo giving up two more runs, and David Robertson and Phil Hughes one each (I’m guessing Hughes has already shaved his new mustache). B.J. Upton hit for the first cycle in Rays history in the first five innings, following a key, bases-loaded first-inning triple with a double in the third, a homer in the fourth, and an RBI single in the fifth. He later added another single in the eighth and finished the game having gone 5-for-5 with 11 total bases, 6 RBIs, and 3 runs scored.
The silver lining for the Yankees was an opportunity to get a look at a large swath of their roster, with 16 position players and 8 pitchers appearing in the game. Juan Miranda crushed a pitch off Dale Thayer for his first major league home run which also happened to tie the Yankees’ single-season team mark for home runs at 242, a mark set by the 2004 Bombers. Brian Bruney worked a perfect sixth inning, and Damaso Marte retired the only two men he faced on a total of four pitches in the eighth.
The turning point in the game came in the bottom of the first. Jason Bartlett led off with a solid single up the middle, then stole second on the first pitch to Carl Crawford. Crawford then hit a grounder to Mark Teixeira’s right. Perhaps still a bit rattled from taking a David Price fastball up and in off his left hand in the top of the inning as likely retribution for Sabathia breaking co-AL home run leader Carlos Peña’s fingers with a pitch the last time these two teams met, Tex bobbled the ball. The bobble was of little consequence as Teixeira recovered in time to flip the ball to Sabathia, but Crawford beat the big lefty to the bag, forcing Tex to eat the ball. Nonetheless, Tex was given an error on the play. With men on first and third and none out, Sabathia walked Evan Longoria on five pitches setting up a bases-loaded no-out jam
Then CC bore down. He jammed Ben Zobrist inside, broke his bat, and got him to hit a humpback liner to Robinson Cano. Teixeira then made a nice play, bending over backwards near the stands to snag a Willy Aybar foul pop and firing home to keep the runners in place. With two out and the game still scoreless, Sabathia fell behind Gabe Kapler 3-0, then got two generous strike calls to battle back to 3-2 before finally walking in the first run of the game. B.J. Upton then hit the first pitch he saw just over the reach of Cano (it seemed as if Cano could have had the ball, but it knuckled, causing Robby to miss). The ball scooted toward the right-field gap, eluding a diving Nick Swisher, who seemed to get caught up in the Tropicana Dome turf, and rolling to the warning track for a bases-clearing triple. That made it 4-0 Rays and set the course for Sabathia, Upton, and the game in general.
After the game, both Sabathia and Girardi blamed CC’s bad outing on a lack of fastball command. Sabathia also said his changeup “wasn’t really there,” but that “I’ll be ready for Wednesday,” referring to his Game 1 start in the ALDS.