Jacoby Ellsbury got a late start off the bat and Carlos Beltran hardly moved at all. Wil Myers didn't run all that hard, either.
The ball seemed ticketed for the Yankees' bullpen, but Myers' third-inning drive to right-centerfield off CC Sabathia actually hit the padding on the very top of the wall, mere inches from being a three-run home run.
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Then it got interesting.
After hitting the wall, the ball ricocheted off the chest of the leaping Ellsbury -- who crashed into the fence and fell onto his back -- and rolled down the warning track toward rightfield. Myers, who had jogged toward first base while watching his drive, turned on the speed and steamed around the bases.
Beltran, who did not immediately move to back up the play, was late getting to the ball. He picked it up in front of the small scoreboard in right-center and threw on a bounce to relay man Yangervis Solarte, who couldn't handle it. As the ball sat on the grass, Myers scored standing up for a tiebreaking three-run inside-the-park home run.
It was the worst moment of a bad day for the Yankees.
Sabathia was strafed for 10 hits and five runs in 3 2/3 innings in a 5-1 loss to the Rays on Sunday at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees, who have lost four of five, have to be concerned about Sabathia, their former ace. His fastball a distant memory, he fell to 3-4 with a 5.75 ERA.
"Going through this adversity has been the toughest part of my baseball career by far," he said. "But I know I'll come out of this."
Yankees fans really cheered only twice: When Eli Manning (and his big brother Peyton, guests of Derek Jeter) were shown on the centerfield scoreboard, and when Joe Girardi walked out to remove Sabathia.
The inside-the-park homer didn't help, and it didn't look good that Beltran took so long to get to the ball. "We have to take care of that, yes," Girardi said.
Said Beltran: "Sometimes you get caught watching the play. Sometimes you react. Ideally, you hope to be there. On that play, the perfect thing for me would be to react a little bit faster. If I would have reacted right away, it would have been a triple."
Ellsbury later made a tremendous catch against the wall on an eerily similar ball hit by Logan Forsythe in the eighth.
As for Sabathia, the Yankees would seem to have no option other than to keep sending him out there.
With Ivan Nova lost for the season after Tommy John surgery and Michael Pineda on the disabled list with a lat strain, the Yankees already are using two fill-in starters.
Plus, Sabathia, who will make $23 million in 2014, is owed a guaranteed $53 million in 2015-16, including a $5-million buyout. He also has a vesting option for 2017 that will pay him $25 million if he doesn't hurt his left shoulder in 2016.