It was a single day, but the Yankees lost so much over the course of it.
The parade to the 10-day injured list was on before they even started their series finale Thursday against Tampa Bay at the Stadium — a 10-5 loss to the Rays — as the left hamstring strain Zack Britton suffered Wednesday night landed him on the IL.
Then the game started and Gleyber Torres had to be removed in the third inning with a tight left hamstring after an awkward dash to first base on a run-scoring groundout. James Paxton, too, could be staring down an injury. The Yankees’ starter took a no-hitter into the fifth before giving up three runs in the inning and was sent for an MRI because of discomfort in the elbow/forearm area. Each is a candidate for the IL, but the Yankees haven’t made a decision.
The losing continued with the result of the game. The Yankees held leads of 2-0 and 4-3 but the Rays victimized relievers Adam Ottavino and Luis Avilan for five runs in the sixth inning.
The Rays (17-9) swept the three-game series and the Yankees (16-9) lost a three-game set at home for the first time since 2017. They also lost their grip on first place in the American League East, falling a half-game behind the Rays. The Yankees are 1-6 against Tampa Bay and 15-3 against everyone else.
And when it was over, the Yankees also lost their scheduled Friday night game against the Mets at Citi Field after two Mets — a player and a coach — tested positive for COVID-19.
“They’ve got our number right now, obviously. It’s unfortunate,” Ottavino said. “We’re going to have to find a way to have a little better outcomes against them . . . It’s a little frustrating to get thoroughly beaten like that.”
The Yankees went 1-for-21 with runners in scoring position in the series and stranded 20.
With Torres’ and Paxton’s injuries coming the day after Britton’s, it’s starting to feel as if the Yankees are forced to cope with another setback every day. The prospect of adding one or both to an IL that already includes Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu would appear daunting. The Yankees, however, survived a slew of injuries a year ago to win 103 games.
“Look, adversity’s coming our way, whether we like it or not,” manager Aaron Boone said. “That’s part of this game. That’s part of being a major league athlete and player. And I don’t care how great a season we have, we expect to have a great season and hopefully finish with the championship. But adversity we know is something inevitable. It’s going to come in different ways, in unexpected ways, and certainly in 2020 it’s been a lot of unexpected ways.”
“I believe in this clubhouse,” said Luke Voit, who hit his team-leading 10th homer and drove in two runs. Voit, who had three hits, has homered in four straight games.
“Obviously, [injuries] are part of the game,” he said, “and it’s crazy it’s happening again, but we’re going to fight through it.”
Ottavino entered in the sixth with a 4-3 lead, courtesy of Gio Urshela’s two-run homer in the fifth. He allowed Yandy Diaz’s double and a walk before retiring the next two batters, but Manuel Margot’s flare single to left tied the score.
The lefthanded Avilan came in to face lefty-hitting Joey Wendle and permitted a run-scoring single for a 5-4 Rays lead. Mike Zunino then hit a three-run homer to leftfield, making it 8-4. Zunino, who homered twice in the series, is hitting .118.
Voit had an RBI single in the sixth and Diaz hit a two-run homer off Luis Cessa in the ninth to complete the scoring.
Paxton gave up just one hit — a two-run double by Wendle — and four walks, but three of the five baserunners scored. He also had eight strikeouts in the 83-pitch, five-inning effort. “The walks really came back to bite him,” Boone said.
Boone said Torres was getting ice treatment after the game and told him it was more tightness than injury, but the manager wasn’t sure about the severity. “I just don’t know,” he said.