ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It is difficult to describe a team that is 25 games over .500 as being in some kind of crisis.
Still, the Yankees’ 7-6, 12-inning loss to the Rays on Sunday afternoon — Jake Bauers’ walk-off homer to centerfield on Chasen Shreve’s only pitch of the game gave Tampa Bay a sweep of the three-game series — hurt on multiple levels.
First and foremost, the Yankees will be without their starting catcher for a while. Gary Sanchez suffered a groin injury while trying to beat out a double-play ball in the 10th inning and will go on the disabled list, general manager Brian Cashman said Sunday night. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre catcher Kyle Higashioka, who is on the 40-man roster, will join the Yankees on Monday.
“Concern?” Aaron Boone said. “Our catcher goes down with an injury, we kind of burned through the bullpen and we used a lot of guys today. But as far as the losses, I do look at it as a bump in the road. Unfortunately, it’s bound to happen in a long season.”
The Yankees (50-25, .667) fell into a first-place tie with the Red Sox (52-27, .658). They had been the last team in the majors not to have had a losing streak of at least three games.
On the positive side, a Yankees offense that had gone 13-for-85 and been held to one run in its previous 25 innings entering the game showed signs of getting on track.
Giancarlo Stanton matched a career high with five hits, including an eighth-inning homer off Vidal Nuño that tied the score at 6. Stanton’s 19th homer completed a comeback from the 6-3 deficit the Yankees faced after three innings. Miguel Andujar hit a three-run homer in the second to give the Yankees a 3-2 lead and two-out RBI doubles by Didi Gregorius and Stanton made it 6-5 in the fifth.
Bauers’ second homer of the season was the Rays’ first hit since the third inning, at which point rookie right hander Domingo German had allowed six runs and nine hits, including a home run, two triples and three doubles.
German, who totaled 28 strikeouts in 19 innings in his previous three outings, was replaced by Adam Warren after hitting Kevin Kiermaier with a pitch to begin the fourth.
“A really bad day for me,” German said through his translator. “All of my pitches weren’t there. I was leaving them up in the zone and they were taking advantage of those. I tried to get in a rhythm but I just couldn’t find my pitches today.”
But Warren, Jonathan Holder, David Robertson, Del lin Betances and Chad Green held the Rays without a hit for eight innings before Shreve threw a misplaced 92-mph fastball to begin the bottom of the 12th.
“They’re an aggressive team,” Shreve said of being “ambushed,” as Boone and catcher Austin Romine put it. “[But] if I hit my spot there, we’re probably not talking right now.”
“It’s stay the course,” Boone said of emerging from the lost weekend. “It’s a long year, man. I think we have a great club. We have a chance to be a special team, and even for those kinds of teams, there’s going to be little rough patches along the way. And I wouldn’t even go that far yet. I’d say we had a tough weekend, we had a tough 60 hours. That’s part of it. Over 162, that’s going to happen. I don’t worry about it in the big picture because I know our guys are really good at turning the page. Hopefully, we go get it rolling right now in Philly.”
One pitch erases pen’s effort
The Yankees’ bullpen didn’t allow a hit from the start of the fourth inning to the end of the 11th. That changed on the first pitch of the bottom of the 12th.
Adam Warren: 28 pitches, 0 hits, 2 strikeouts
Jonathan Holder: 25 pitches, 0 hits, 2 strikeouts
David Robertson: 15 pitches, 0 hits
Dellin Betanches: 14 pitches, 0 hits, 1 strikeout
Chad Green: 35 pitches, 0 hits, 4 strikeouts
Chasen Shreve: 1 pitch, 1 home run