ST. PETERSBURG, FLORIDA - JULY 07: Aaron Boone #17 of the New York Yankees looks on before a baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field on July 07, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The New York Yankees managed a strong finish despite losing two out of three to the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Josh Benjamin

The New York Yankees probably hate nothing more than going to play the rival Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Well, the Bronx Bombers paid a visit to the Sunshine State for three games with their pesky fellow AL East squad. As has been typical for recent trips to St. Petersburg, the Yankees looked their usual deadly combination of either overwhelmed and unmotivated or completely focused.

And from the fans’ perspective, every game felt like a Game 7 of sorts. The Rays could very easily be a playoff opponent for the New York Yankees, so performing well against them is essential.

Yet, the Trop brings out the worst in every visiting team and the Yankees sadly lost two of three. Let’s recap the series and try not to get too mad about it.

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Starting Pitching

If there’s one thing that’s been consistent for the New York Yankees this season, it’s been starting pitching. In fact, entering Sunday’s game, the team had a staff ERA of 2.84 to rank third in the majors.

But that number is inflated because in the first two games of this series, the Yankees’ pitching was absolutely lost. Corey Kluber couldn’t find the strike zone on Friday and didn’t even last three innings before the bullpen fell apart. Domingo German had the awareness of a wayward Psyduck on the field. Thankfully, the bullpen was able to shut the Rays down otherwise on Saturday though the Yankees lost 4-0.

The silver lining is despite mistakes to Mike Zunino and Randy Arozarena on Sunday, Jordan Montgomery cemented himself as an effective arm in the rotation. The big lefty pitched five innings and scattered five hits to go with four strikeouts and two walks.

Even so, this was a brutal reminder of how hit-or-miss the arms behind Gerrit Cole could be this year. Ugly as some wins may be, they’re still W’s.

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Offense

As if being without Aaron Judge for Friday’s game wasn’t enough, this series was a brutal reminder for the New York Yankees at the plate. This team looked lost as could be, even in Sunday’s extra-inning win.

For context, the team was 5 for 20 with runners in scoring position in the entire three-game series. That’s pathetic for a lineup constantly put up against Murderers’ Row. Babe Ruth is probably spinning in his grave with how horrible some of the at-bats were in this series. You know things are bad when DJ LeMahieu, of all people, has the bases loaded and grounds into an inning-ending double play.

Oh, and how about Aaron Hicks doing the same thing with nobody out on Sunday, and swinging at the first pitch?

Also, Yankees Twitter can officially shut up because, amongst all the struggles, Gary Sanchez is the Yankees’ most consistent hitter. Gio Urshela’s starting to heat up too. Is the rest of the team not far behind? Sure, it’s April, but even still.

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Bullpen

Death, taxes, and the New York Yankees having a strong bullpen. Zack Britton might be missed, but his teammates are doing an excellent job holding down the fort without him.

Friday’s game saw Nick Nelson and Lucas Luetge combine to give up five earned runs, but this game is a clear fluke. Nothing was going right for the Yankees from having strong at-bats to questionable umpiring. German allowed four runs in four innings on Saturday, and the bullpen held the Rays scoreless otherwise.

Sunday saw Chad Green throw 2.1 scoreless frames and rookie Albert Abreu get the finish in extras. Say what you want about the Yankees bats but when it comes to the ‘pen, they’re almost untouchable.

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Final thoughts

We’ll touch on this more in this week’s State of the Yankees, but there’s clearly something about Tropicana Field that brings out the worst in the Yankees. Next comes a three-game set with the Toronto Blue Jays in Dunedin, and then a weekend home series with the Rays.

Hopefully, Sunday’s win will jumpstart the bats and the real New York Yankees will finally show themselves.

via GIPHY

 

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