NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Austin Meadows homered off Luis Cessa in the 11th inning, and the Tampa Bay Rays rallied to beat the Yankees 2-1 Saturday and regain the AL East lead after dropping behind New York for a day.
New York’s bullpen retired 13 in a row before Meadows lined a slider from Cessa (0-1) into the right-field seats for his ninth homer.
HICKS & SANCHEZ CRUMBLE IN THE CLUTCH:
The 27-year-old may get branded with Saturday’s loss, but the true goats of the game were New York’s No. 3 and 4 hitters – Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez. The duo combined to squash three Yankee rallies that would have sent New York cruising to another win over their AL East rivals.
With the bases loaded in a scoreless game in the third, Hicks struck out in a situation where a batted ball would have produced a run. After a Blake Snell wild pitch scored a run, Sanchez also struck out with runners on second and third to end the frame and New York’s best chance to score Saturday.
With another chance to extend their lead in the sixth, Hicks ran past third base coach Phil Nevin’s stop sign on a Gleyber Torres’ two-out single to left and was thrown out at the plate to kill another rally.
To finish off their miserable afternoon, José Alvarado gave up a leadoff single to Luke Voit in the 11th before Hicks struck out, and Sanchez grounded into a game-ending double play. The Yankees’ catcher went 0-for-5 with four strikeouts on the day.
Combined, the pair went 2-for-10 with six strikeouts and left 10 men on base in the crushing loss.
TANAKA’S GEM WASTED:
Masahiro Tanaka outpitched the AL Cy Young Award winner Snell for the second time in less than a week and was provided a lead when Snell threw a run-scoring wild pitch in the third.
Tanaka left with a bruised shin after a grounder up the middle in the sixth. Brandon Lowe tied the score in the seventh, homering on the second pitch from reliever Tommy Kahnle.
Tanaka allowed three hits in six scoreless innings, struck out six and walked none, his splitter sharp for the second straight outing.
Ji-Man Choi doubled with two outs on the sixth and Yandy Diaz followed with a hard grounder up the middle that seemed destined to become an RBI single. Tanaka spun at the end of his delivery, and the ball ricocheted off the pitcher’s right shin directly to Voit, who stepped on first. The Yankees said X-rays of Tanaka’s shin were negative.
ALMOST GIO’S DAY AGAIN:
A night after his game-ending single capped a three-run rally in the ninth, Gio Urshela fouled off seven straight pitches in the ninth, then flied out to Kevin Kiermaier on the right-field warning track on the 12th pitch of his at-bat — as a fan reached out with cap trying to snag the ball first but missed.
Yankees SS Didi Gregorius is to play Monday in his first extended spring training game since Tommy John surgery on Oct. 17 and is projected to rejoin New York in June.
It’s some of the best injury news for New York this year, who is still without Aaron Judge, Luis Severino, and just lost Miguel Andujar for the entire 2019 season.
RHP Charlie Morton (4-0) starts the series finale for the Rays against a Yankees pitcher to be determined. After using Cessa in the loss, New York may be forced to use an opener and patch together Sunday’s game with the bullpen.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)