New York Yankees: 3 major takeaways from loss to the Rays

William Parlee
New York Yankees, Corey Kluber
Feb 21, 2021; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Corey Kluber (28) throws a pitch at Yankees player development complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday afternoon the New York Yankees met up with their nemesis Tampa Bay Rays in the first game of the season against the team that beat them in the 2020 AL Divisional series. After a few years of building dislike for each other, the two teams kept it non-violent other than a few hit batters that did not cause much unrest. For the Yankees, it was a sad day that saw their pitching collapse early in the game, causing a 10-5 loss.

A tough Opening Day

The New York Yankees started their afternoon having to endure a celebration by the Tampa Bay Rays, celebrating their 2020 win of the East and their win in that made them pennant champions. Reportedly the Yankee players were allowed to stay in the visiting clubhouse or view the festivities from the dugout. Most were in the dugout. It had to be painful for many players to see the Rays raise those celebratory flags.

Last season the Yankees lost the East Division to the Rays, falling seven runs behind the Rays at the end of the short season. After the Yankees swept the Indians in the Wild Card Series, they again met up with the Tampa team in the divisional series for the AL that they lost in five games.

Yankee pitching fails early

After a generally good start in his first game of the season, Corey Kluber took to the mound for the first game of the season against the East rival Tampa Bay Rays. In the first inning, Yoshi Tsutsugo struck out. Austin Meadows singled to left field. Randy Arozarena hit into a double play to end the inning, letting Kluber get out of trouble quickly. At the second, Brandon Lowe struck out, but Yandy Diaz singled on a LeMahieu error.  Joey Wendle singled, and Diaz went to third. Willie Adames hit one off the centerfield wall, Diaz scored, and Wendle went to third base for the Rays early lead. Brett Phillips flew out, but Wendle scored for the 2 run lead. Mike Zunino popped out to the infield, but the Rays picked up 2 runs in the inning.

At the bottom of the third inning, after Tsutsugo scored, a single and two walks knocked Kluber out of the game early. Nick Nelson was brought in to save Kluber, but he made it worse. Nelson gave up two more runs in the inning, putting the Yankees behind the eightball. Had Nelson cleaned up for Kluber, Kluber’s start wouldn’t have looked so sad.

In the fourth inning Nelson who had pitched so well in the spring, loaded bases, then a double by Brandon Lowe cleared the bases. Arozarena scored. At the end of the fourth inning, the Rays had scored 9 runs in the game, putting it out of reach. Lucas Luetge gave up a homer for the final scoring for the Rays. Luis Cessa pitched a clean eighth inning. The final score was Rays 10, Yankees 5. Starter Kluber now has a 5.68 ERA early in the season.

Hitting still inconsistent

In yesterday’s Rays game, the New York Yankee hitting remained inconsistent. Although they did get 7 hits in the game, most were in the third inning when they scored 4 of their runs. The only other scoring in the game came in the top of the eighth inning from a LeMahieu solo home run. In the third inning, Aaron Hicks got his first home run of the season. At the end of the inning, the Yankees took the 4-2 lead in the game, giving them hope that the game’s poor early pitching would not prevent them from winning the game. But that was not to be; the Rays scored 8 unanswered runs.

DJ LeMahieu had two hits in the game, and Giancarlo Stanton continued to look good driving in two runs. Jay Bruce and Clint Frazier are off to sluggish starts in the season. Bruce stuck out twice in the game, and Frazier struck out three of four times.

Today’s matchup

Today at 1:10 pm, the New York Yankees will have their second game against the Rays. Domingo German will start for the Yankees and for the Rays, newly acquired Chris Archer, who gave up four runs in his two innings of work in his first game of the season. Archer, in his career, has held the Yankees to a 3.14 ERA. The game will be televised in Florida on Bally Sports Sun and in the New York area on the YES Network. It will also be televised nationally on MLBN. (out of market).