Just two days after an emotional ceremony for the Yankees’ all-time great Mariano Rivera, the Yankees started their final regular season home series of the 2013 season. The Yankees were not mathematically eliminated from playoff contention when entering the game with Tampa, but they were 4 games back of the second AL wild card spot with only 6 games remaining. Clearly this series was extremely important in determining whether or not the Yankees would be playing postseason baseball or just watching it on T.V.
The pitching matchup for the game was the Yankees’ Hiroki Kuroda against the Rays’ Matt Moore. It only took 3 pitches on Tuesday night for the Yankees to find themselves in a hole. Rays’ designated hitter Matt Joyce led off the top of the 1st inning with a solo Home Run off of Yankees starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda continued to struggle in the 1st inning as an RBI double from Left Fielder David DeJesus, and a Sacrifice Fly from Third Baseman Evan Longoria would give the Rays an early 3-0 lead.
Rays starting pitcher Matt Moore was a bit shaky in his start, but overall he pitched well. In the bottom of the 3rd inning they loaded the bases with only one out and 1st baseman Mark Reynolds was up. Reynolds flew out softly to right fielder Will Myers, so the runners were not able to advance. Then with two outs, 3rd baseman Eduardo Nunez grounded into a force out. This was not the only opportunity the Yankees had on the night as runners got into scoring position in almost every inning, but none of these opportunities resulted in runs.
The Rays would score 4 more times on the night in their 7-0 victory. In the 6th inning Rays 1st baseman James Loney doubled drove home Will Myers and Evan Longoria. In the top of the 9th inning Delmon Young, who pinch hit earlier in the game for Matt Joyce, doubled, driving home Sam Fuld. Also in the 9th, David DeJesus collected his second RBI double of the night. It was a very disappointing game for the Yankees as it put them just one game from the brink of elimination.
Hiroki Kuroda gave up 5 earned runs over 5.2 innings, striking out 5 batters on the night and giving up one home run to Matt Joyce in the 1st inning. He would pick up the loss in the game sending his record on the season to 11 wins and 13 losses. Matt Moore did not allow a run in his 5 innings of work, striking out 4 but also walking 6 batters. Moore got the win in the game sending his record to 16 wins and just 4 losses. Jake Odorizzi picked up the save in the game.
After a disappointing 1st game, the Yankees now found themselves just 1 game from elimination. The Yankees were in a win or go home situation for the rest of the season, but even if they could win every game their playoff opportunities would still be slim.
The pitching matchup for the second game of the series was the reigning Cy Young award winner David Price from the Rays against Phil Hughes from the Yankees.
The Rays took a lead in the 1st inning of the 2nd game, just like they did in the 1st inning of the 1st game. James Loney doubled and he drove in Will Myers, who doubled in his previous turn at bat. Phil Hughes would work out of the jam just allowing the one run in the inning.
The Yankees tied the game up in the bottom half of the inning when Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano got an RBI double of his own, driving in Eduardo Nunez. The double by Cano was historic because it was his 40th double of the season. He has now hit 40 doubles in a season for the 5th consecutive season. This put Robinson Cano into 2nd place for most consecutive 40 double seasons only behind Hall of Famer, Joe “Ducky” Medwick and Wade Boggs.
The Rays took back the lead in the game in the top of the 3rd inning when David DeJesus hit an RBI single that drove home James Loney. Later in the inning Matt Joyce hit a Sacrifice fly. The Yankees would get one of those runs back in the bottom of the 3rd inning when Eduardo Nunez drove a Solo Home Run to the left field seats.
From the 6th inning on the game turned into the Evan Longoria show. Longoria hit a Three Run Homer in the top of the 6th, driving in Will Myers and James Loney. Longoria kept it going in the top of the 9th inning when he hit his 2nd Home Run of the game. The final score of the game was Rays 8, Yankees 3.
Phil Hughes gave up 3 earned runs over 2 innings, striking out 2 in his limited innings of work, and receiving the loss in the game. Phil Hughes now has 4 wins and 14 losses on the season. Joe Girardi the Yankees manager pulled Hughes from the game early after getting into early trouble. David Price gave up 2 earned runs over 7 innings, and he struck out 8. David Price now has 9 wins and 8 losses on the season.
For the first time in 20 years, the Yankees found themselves playing in a home game that didn’t matter. With the Yankees eliminated from playoff contention on Wednesday night the game on Thursday did not matter in the slightest for their playoff chances. But even though it didn’t matter in the standings or in the playoff race, the game on Thursday night may have actually been the most important game of the season. This was for one reason and for one reason only, it was Mariano Rivera’s final game at home as a New York Yankee.
The pitching matchup for the third game of the series was Alex Cobb for the Rays and Ivan Nova for the Yankees.
The Rays, just like in the 1st and 2nd game, got out to a lead over the Yankees. In the 4th inning Evan Longoria, who demolished the Yankees all season long, hurt them once again with an RBI single that drove in Will Myers. Ivan Nova would work out of a bases loaded jam in that 4th inning and escape with only giving up that one run.
Rays starting pitcher Alex Cobb simply dominated the Yankees lineup. He was in control the entire game as he had been throwing a 1-hitter through 7 innings. In the 8th inning he got into a jam, but Rays manager Joe Maddon would call on relief pitcher Joel Peralta and he worked out of it. Delmon Young would help tack onto the Rays one run lead with a solo Home Run in the 7th inning. Evan Longoria’s two RBI singles in the 8th inning would put the game away for good as the final score was Rays 2, Yankees 0.
Overall in this game, Ivan Nova only gave up 2 runs over 7 innings and he struck out 5. However, his offense let him down and gave him no run support. Nova now has a record of 9 wins and 6 losses on the season. Alex Cobb picked up the win in the game not giving up a single run over 7 strong innings and striking out 4. Cobb now has a record of 11 wins and 3 losses on the season.
Although the game had no meaning, it became an emotional last two innings when Mariano Rivera entered the game with two runners on and one man out in the 8th inning. Rivera just like he has done for the last 19 seasons pitched extremely well in his inning or two of work as he got out of the jam and moved it to the 9th inning. Rivera went out to the mound for the 9th inning and picked up the first 2 outs of the inning easily but what happened after this was even more amazing. Rivera’s teammate Derek Jeter of 19 seasons and his teammate Andy Pettitte of 16 seasons both went out to the mound and made a pitching change. The Manager of the Yankees, Joe Girardi, had Jeter and Pettitte change the pitcher so that they could greet Rivera at the mound. He was removed from the game one out before the 9th inning was over so that he could receive the cheers and the ovation that he so greatly deserved as he walked off of the Yankee Stadium mound for the final time in his illustrious career. It was truly an amazing send off to the greatest relief pitcher of all time.