Because there are added ways to get into the postseason this COVID- impacted year, it would be premature to post funeral home visiting hours for the Yankees.
Yet a team many believed capable of being World Series champs during each spring training session is circling the drain in regards to winning the AL East, and in very real danger of finishing third which would relegate them to compete for one of two wild-card tickets.
If you listened hard enough Wednesday night at an empty Yankee Stadium, you could hear the ashes of loved ones sprinkled throughout the ballpark voicing their displeasure about a lifeless 5-2 loss to the Rays.
Jordan Montgomery didn’t get out of the first inning when he gave up four runs and five hits, two of which were homers. The two-thirds of an inning he lasted represented Montgomery’s shortest big-league start.
Tyler Wade got doubled off first because he was on the run with the Yankees trailing, 4-0, in the third when DJ LeMahieu lined to left.
Jonathan Holder gave up the second of Mike Brosseau’s two homers in the fourth that stretched the Rays’ lead to 5-0.
And the umpires didn’t help the Yankees by ejecting reliever Ben Heller from the game in the fifth inning after hitting Hunter Renfroe in the left leg.
Aaron Boone and the Rays’ Kevin Cash didn’t manage Wednesday night’s game after they were each suspended following Aroldis Chapman buzzing Brosseau’s head with a 101 mph fastball Tuesday night. Heller’s ejection made it appear each team was issued warnings before the game.
Bench coaches Carlos Mendoza and Matt Quatraro handled each club. Boone was spotted in a suite seat during the loss.
LeMahieu’s two-out RBI single in the ninth cut the deficit to 5-2 and brought Luke Voit to the plate with two on, but Pete Fairbanks got him to ground out.
Thanks in large part to going 8-2 against the Yankees this year the 26-12 Rays are 4 ½ lengths up on the Yankees who have 25 games remaining starting Thursday when they play the Mets at Citi Field. The Yankees are 4-9 in their last 13 games.
The third-place Blue Jays are one game back of the 20-15 Yankees who have been without Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Gleyber Torres and James Paxton lately.
Clint Frazier’s one-out solo homer in the sixth off the left-field foul pole accounted for the Yankees’ first run and reduced the deficit to 5-1. When Gio Urshela singled with one out, lefty Aaron Loop was summoned and he struck out Mike Tauchman before walking Gary Sanchez. Loup left two on by getting Brett Gardner on a grounder to the right side.
When Heller drilled Renfroe in the left leg with a 94 mph fastball and one out in the fifth the right-hander being ejected.
Down 5-0, the Yankees stirred in the fourth against John Curtiss when Frazier walked with one out and Urshela doubled into the right-field corner. But the ice-cold Tauchman (4-for-30 in the previous 11 games) whiffed and the frigid Gary Sanchez (hitting .124 entering the game) did the same to strand two.
Rays starter Charlie Morton lasted two-plus innings but that was a marathon compared to how short Montgomery’s outing was.
Morton stranded two in the first and worked a perfect second when all three Yankee hitters whiffed. Pitching for the first time since Aug. 9 when he lasted two innings against the Yankees in St. Petersburg and landed on the injured list, Morton started the third by walking Wade and was relieved by Curtiss.
With the Yankees trailing, 4-0, Wade attempted to steal second but that backfired when LeMahieu’s liner to left turned into a 7-3 double play that killed a possible scoring threat.
Using four outfielders the Rays were in position to turn Luke Voit’s hard-hit fly ball toward the left-field corner into the final out.
A lot went on in the top of the first and not much of it was good for Montgomery. The Rays’ first five hitters reached on hits with Randy Arozarena and Brosseau each swatting two-run homers four batters into the game. Willy Adames followed Brosseau’s home run with a double before Montgomery recovered to strike out Joey Wendle and Renfroe.
A catcher’s interference call on Sanchez allowed Kevan Smith to reach first base and a walk to Nick Lowe loaded the bases and ended Montgomery’s miserable night.
Nick Nelson replaced him and required one pitch to retire Manuel Margo on a fly to right.
In two-thirds of an inning Montgomery gave up four runs, five hits, walked one and struck out two.
Brosseau’s second homer off Jonathan Holder in the fourth upped the visitor’s lead to 5-0.