Tony La Russa takes responsibility for bullpen mix-up

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Tony La Russa tried to explain the bullpen phone mix-up following last night’s loss and failed miserably, seemingly throwing his bullpen coach Derek Lilliquist under the bus. Fortunately he sung a decidedly different tune in his comments to the press this afternoon at Busch Stadium.

According to the Associated Press, La Russa took full responsibility for the mix-up and said that he told Lilliquist “10 times” that it wasn’t his fault. He also shed a bit more light on how the miscommunication may have happened in the first place.

While La Russa reiterated that he called the bullpen twice to get Jason Motte ready, he admitted that during the first call, he might have mentioned Motte’s name after Lilliquist had already hung up the phone.

Plausible? I suppose. It works for a pretty good excuse, if anything. But it’s just as plausible to say that he was simply unprepared for the inning to get to Mike Napoli. Since nobody heard him, we’ll probably never know for sure.

Masahiro Tanaka throws two-hit shutout vs. Rays

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Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka went the distance, holding the Rays scoreless on two hits and one walk with 10 strikeouts across nine innings on Monday night in the Bronx. It’s the fourth shutout of his career, accounting for four of the Yankees’ last six shutouts. The other two were thrown my Luis Severino and Brandon McCarthy.

DJ LeMahieu provided the bulk of the offense, swatting a two-run home run off of Yonny Chirinos in the third inning. Cameron Maybin tacked on a solo homer off of Chirinos in the fifth as the Yankees went on to win 3-0.

After Monday’s performance, Tanaka owns a 3.23 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 20 walks across 92 innings on the season.

With the win, the Yankees increase their lead over the Rays for first place in the AL East to 1.5 games.