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Yankees’ bats don’t back solid CC Sabathia in loss to Rays

Gary Sanchez of the Yankees strikes out to

Gary Sanchez of the Yankees strikes out to end the eighth inning against the Rays at Yankee Stadium on Sunday. Credit: Jim McIsaac

It is a sentiment CC Sabathia has expressed a few times this season, as have other Yankees starters.

“This is a great offense,” he said June 5 in Toronto after picking up a victory. “And you know they’re going to come through at some point.”

That’s been the case far more often than not this season, which made results like Sunday’s somewhat of a surprise.

Though they had their chances, the Yankees never put much together in a 3-1 loss to the Rays in front of a Father’s Day sellout crowd of 46,400 at the Stadium.

“We had runners on base the whole game. Just one of those games,” Sabathia said. “We’ll be ready tomorrow and I’m sure these guys will come out swinging the bats good.”

The Yankees (46-21) went 0-for-16 with runners on base, were 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position and stranded nine. They entered the game with 13 wins in their last 16 games but fell short in their attempt to sweep the four-game series against the Rays (33-38).

“You always want to finish what you started,” said Aaron Hicks, who hit his eighth homer, a shot to rightfield in the fifth. “[They] made some big pitches.”

Sabathia allowed three runs in the second inning but was otherwise terrific in a season-high 7 2⁄3 innings. He allowed 10 hits but struck out a season-high 10, the 38th career double-digit-strikeout game of his career.

But aside from Hicks’ home run and Didi Gregorius’ two-out triple in the first inning, there wasn’t much from the offense. Rays righthander Wilmer Font allowed one run and four hits in 4 2⁄3 innings and four relievers added 4 1⁄3 innings of shutout ball. The five pitchers struck out 12 Yankees.

“I always know that we’re some traffic away from popping one,” Aaron Boone said. “We had a little bit of traffic today, we threw some hits out there, but couldn’t get over the hump, obviously. Credit to them for holding us down and keeping us at bay today.”

Several Yankees continued skidding. Gary Sanchez is 5-for-62, Greg Bird is 5-for-34 and Giancarlo Stanton is 7-for-36.

“It’s getting better,” Stanton said of his timing, which Boone cited as the biggest issue he’s seen from him this season. “I’m seeing the ball better. The results haven’t been there, but making small progress.”

After Gregorius reached on an infield single in the eighth and took second on an errant pickoff throw by Diego Castillo, Stanton struck out, Bird grounded to second and Sanchez struck out on three pitches, fanning on a breaking ball that bounced in front of the plate.

Neil Walker walked with one out in the ninth, but Sergio Romo struck out Gleyber Torres and Hicks popped up to end it.

The Rays opened the second inning with three straight hits and wound up scoring three runs, although Sabathia was a strike away from escaping a huge jam with one run allowed.

Singles by Willy Adames and Adeiny Hechavarria put runners on first and third, and Carlos Gomez lined a first-pitch cutter to left for an RBI double. Former Yankee Rob Refsnyder popped out and Johnny Field struck out, but when Sabathia hung an 0-and-2 slider to Matt Duffy, he lined a two-run single to right for a 3-0 lead.

“I could have made a better pitch,” Sabathia said.

But on this Sunday, it wasn’t about the pitching.

Said Boone, “We just couldn’t generate enough offensively.”

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