For the Yankees, it’s 16 playoff appearances in 17 years. For the Rays: missed opportunities. For the Red Sox: some breathing room, at least for a bit. The Yankees beat the Rays 4-2 in the front end of a double header today.
The game was decided in the eighth when James Shields allowed a homer to Eduardo Nunez to tie it up. Joe Maddon left Shields in the game and he struck out Eric Chavez before allowing Brett Gardner to single and then reach second on a stolen base. Derek Jeter then walked, bringing up Robinson Cano.
Shields was at 120 pitches at this point. He was likely gassed, and it was a totally defensible call to bring in a reliever. Whether he brought in the correct one, however, in J.P. Howell is something Rays fans are likely still asking themselves. Howell has been the worst guy in that Rays pen all year. Yes, he’s a left and you want a lefty to face Cano in that situation, but Howell? That’s a major “hurm” moment if I’ve ever seen one. Cano doubled off Howell, scoring Gardner and Jeter. Which was basically the ballgame.
For the Yankees, the playoffs await again. For the Rays, another missed opportunity to put pressure on the Red Sox. A Red Sox team which, even if it keeps losing games, won’t lose any ground if the Rays do the same.
Oh, and the Yankees did not have the champagne shower after this game. It would have made the nightcap a bit too difficult to get through, I would reckon.