Tampa Bay Rays' Yandy Diaz hits an RBI single against...

Tampa Bay Rays' Yandy Diaz hits an RBI single against the Yankees during the seventh inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 28, 2022, in St. Petersburg, Fla.  Credit: AP/Scott Audette

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Without the injured Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga and Aroldis Chapman, the Yankees are going to have to turn to other bullpen guys in the late innings of tied games. 

On Saturday, the tied game was against Tampa Bay and the other guys were Lucas Luetge and Michael King. That duo combined to allow a soft go-ahead run in the seventh and King gave up another run in the eighth as Tampa Bay took a 3-1 victory before a modified sellout crowd (upper deck not open) of 25,025 at Tropicana Field. 

The Yankees, who had won four in a row, including the first two games of this series, were held to four hits by old friend Corey Kluber and three relievers. 

The score was tied at 1 in the seventh when Luetge (1-2), in relief of starter Gerrit Cole, allowed a leadoff single by Kevin Kiermaier. Francisco Mejia hit a pop-fly double inside the rightfield line that eluded a sprinting Gleyber Torres and a sliding Joey Gallo and bounced into the Rays'  bullpen. 

“When it first went up, I’m like, ‘Oh, no, it’s in no-man’s land out there,’ ” Aaron Boone said. “It looked to me like Gleyber got a pretty good break on it, but just right in that perfect spot where it’s going to be a tough play.”

With runners on second and third and the infield in, Luetge got pinch hitter Harold Ramirez to ground to Anthony Rizzo, who threw out Kiermaier at the plate. Mejia inexplicably remained at second. 

King replaced Luetge and got Taylor Walls to ground into a 4-6 forceout, with Mejia moving to third as the speedy Walls beat the relay to first. That proved crucial when Yandy Diaz hit a high-chop single to third that DJ LeMahieu fielded but did not throw anywhere as the go-ahead run scored. 

“I didn’t get the job done,” King said. “Yeah, it was soft contact, but there are times when you need strikeouts and swings-and-misses, and I didn’t get it.”

“Tough one,” Boone said. “Tough one. Felt like we made some good pitches in situations and they found some holes with it.”

Wander Franco led off the eighth against King with a triple and scored on Manuel Margot’s single to make it 3-1. 

King has allowed runs in five of his last seven appearances after not allowing a run in his previous six. 

Cole and Kluber each allowed one run in six innings.  

Cole walked leadoff man Diaz and then retired the next 14 “Devil Rays” (not “Rays” for a day as Tampa Bay honored its former nickname by wearing 1990s-style Devil Rays uniforms). Mejia broke up Cole’s nascent no-hit bid with a two-out single to center in the fifth. 

The Yankees took a 1-0 lead three batters into the game. LeMahieu, back in the lineup for the first time since getting scratched with a sore left wrist on Tuesday, doubled high off the rightfield wall. Aaron Judge grounded a single to left and LeMahieu scored on Rizzo’s short sacrifice fly to center, with Kiermaier making a dreadfully off-line throw home. 

Kluber retired 15 of the next 16 batters (including two double plays). The stoic righthander allowed only a third-inning single by No. 9 hitter  Gallo, and the Yankees had only one additional hit.  

Kluber, who no-hit the Rangers for the Yankees last May 19, allowed three hits and struck out five. 

It  still was 1-0 with two outs in the sixth when Cole walked Ji-Man Choi on a close 3-and-2 pitch, with an angry Cole telling plate umpire Edwin Moscoso, ''You missed that one.'' 

Cole was asked if there was any doubt in his mind that the pitch to Choi was a strike. “No,” he said. “I looked at it anyway. Thought it was a strike.”

Said Boone, "Yeah, we thought we had him.'' 

Going into the game, Choi had been 10-for-23 (.435) with four home runs (including postseason) against Cole but had struck out in his first two at-bats. 

Cole seemed unnerved by the walk. Rizzo came over to chat, but Cole then issued a four-pitch walk to Franco. Randy Arozarena followed with a bloop RBI single to left to tie the score at 1.  

Cole got Margot to ground out for the third out and immediately went into the dugout to watch video from the inning on an iPad. Probably easy to deduce what pitch he wanted to see. 

It was the first run scored by the Rays in this series when a Yankees starting pitcher was in the game. Nestor Cortes threw eight scoreless innings on Thursday before allowing a leadoff single in the ninth and getting pulled. That runner came around to score. Jameson Taillon threw eight shutout innings on Friday. 

Cole finished with 105 pitches. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out 10.

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