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Yankees fall to 5-8, fans melt down in lackluster loss to Rays

Aaron Judge #99 of the Yankees reacts after

Aaron Judge #99 of the Yankees reacts after striking out in the fourth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium on Friday, Apr. 16, 2021. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Every part of it was ugly.

The Yankees’ pitching, the defense, the offense, but especially that part in the eighth. That’s when fans took things into their own hands, throwing ball after ball onto the field, targeting Rays and stopping play until security could get things under control. Even then, fans screamed for more balls to be thrown.

"I have not" seen that before in person, said Aaron Boone, who sounded thoroughly disheartened. "You hate to see it, is what I would say to that. Unfortunately, a handful of people end up doing it and it looks bad for everyone and it’s unfortunate that it happened."

It was the capper to a night to forget. The Yankees lost to Tampa Bay, 8-2, to fall to 5-8, the worst record in the American League. They committed three errors and allowed three unearned runs in a four-run fifth. They managed one hit and struck out nine times in six innings against Rays starter Michael Wacha. And their pitchers — a hodgepodge that started with opener Nick Nelson — could do little to limit the Rays, who have won 13 of the last 16 regular-season games against the Yankees.

The Yankees’ only runs came in the seventh on Giancarlo Stanton’s two-run homer off Trevor Richards. They finished with three hits and 14 strikeouts. At one point, Wacha retired 11 of 12 batters. The former Mets righthander didn’t allow a single runner to reach scoring position.

The night ended with Boone — a notably even-keeled manager — addressing the team. Clint Frazier described it as a meeting in which the "chill" Boone was not so chill. Stanton called him "very upset."

"Him addressing us means we need to play better," Frazier said. "I think everyone took away the thought that we have to come to the ballpark tomorrow ready to go . . . Boonie is so chill that when he gets angry, you, in that moment, should know as a person that when he is so chill, that when he does get upset [it means] that hey, we aren’t doing it the right way. It should be addressed and it was needed."

The bad night started with opener Nick Nelson, who allowed two runs in the first inning. After he walked leadoff batter Austin Meadows and allowed a double by Randy Arozarena, he got ahead of Brandon Lowe 0-and-2, but Lowe jumped on a 96-mph fastball down the middle for a two-run double to right-center that was just shy of being a three-run homer.

After Michael King pitched three scoreless innings — repeatedly escaping trouble and giving him nine shutout innings in two appearances this season — the fifth turned into an absolute mess for Luis Cessa and the team’s defense.

 

Joey Wendle singled and scored on Mike Brosseau’s one-out double, and another run scored on Gio Urshela’s error. After two walks loaded the bases, Arozarena hit a potential inning-ending double-play ball, but the Yankees couldn’t turn it. Two runs scored on Rougned Odor’s throwing error for a 6-0 lead. Three of the runs off Cessa were unearned.

Lucas Luetge allowed two more runs in the sixth on a two-out, two-run double by Mike Zunino that was just missed by a diving Frazier.

This game was not an aberration; it was a continuation of a series of early-season woes. The Yankees came into the game with a .231/.316/.371 slash line, and their starter ERA sat at 4.58. They did not improve on those stats.

"We’re definitely underperforming on the offensive side," Stanton said. "We’ve got to pick it up. We can’t keep rolling this same look out there."

Of Boone’s addressing the team, he added: "We’ve just got to come out better. He was obviously very upset, and rightfully so."

After his discussion, though, Boone tried to take an optimistic approach.

"I think any time you have an offense like we do and we expect a lot of ourselves and it’s not clicking, that has a look of being off or lacking some energy," he said. "And then you’re going through some adversity and you’re having a week where you’re struggling to get it together and all of a sudden, you miss a couple plays and the game gets out of hand, that’s frustrating. But we’ve talked about it all the time. We know adversity is coming for you at some point in the season. It’s knocking on our door right now."

New York Sports