Rodriguez singled on the first pitch he saw from Price in the first inning, a fastball, and then Price got him out the next time on off-speed pitches. Now, he went after Rodriguez with more soft stuff. Rodriguez fouled pitches off, good pitches, nasty pitches. Until he saw 11, almost all soft (3 hard fastballs mixed in there for good measure). It was a riveting at bat and if Yankee fans felt that Rodriguez was bound to whiff at least he wasn’t making it easy on Price.
Then he struck out on a change-up, or was it a slider? Doesn’t matter. Rodriguez was booed–unfairly, it says here–on his walk back to the dugout. Robinson Cano was next and the 1-1 pitch was a 97-mph fastball, right down the middle. Cano put a good swing on it but fouled it off. He too ruined a couple of good pitches by Price before grounding out weakly to second base to end the threat. Cano was not booed but he had the best chance of the inning–the one true mistake that Price made (I’m not including the two walks).
That ended Price’s night but it was also as close as the Yanks would come (Eric Chavez, pinch-hitting in the eighth inning, represented the tying run and missed a fat pitch, fouling it off, that could well keep him up tonight if he’s the sensitive kind). Just a nervy performance by Price in the fifth.
C.C. Sabathia had an effective slider but made a few too many mistakes (an error by Rodriguez did him no favors, either) as the Rays escaped New York with a win.
Final Score: Rays 7, Yanks 3.
The Yanks couldn’t take advantage of an Orioles loss to move into first place so they remain in second as our attention turns to the dreaded Subway Serious. You can guess the narrative: the Mets are scrappy, full of gamers–they’ve got spunk! they’ve got heart! they’ve got guts!–they are fun, they are what baseball is supposed to be about. The Yankees, meanwhile, are boring and bloated, overpaid, a regular snoozefest. Wonder who the reporters are pulling for?
[Photo Credit: Bags; Seth Wenig/AP; Jim McIsaac/Getty Images]