By Rich Mancuso
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE 21- Andy Pettitte over the years has had success against the Tampa Bay Rays but Thursday night the New York Yankees left handed veteran struggled and admitted it was a disappointing outing. Tampa used the long ball and a quality start from Matt Moore and took advantage of an ineffective Pettitte.
Tampa Bay banged out 14-hits and got three home runs, two from Evan Longoria taking the first of a four-game series from the Yankees, 8-3.
“I felt good but the evaluation of it obviously is another disappointing outing,” he said, as the Yankees lost their second straight game and went 3-4 against the Rays this season.
He struggled with his command and with the fastball
“When you can’t get the first couple of hitters top of the lineup obviously the guys down there have power,” said Pettitte about the Rays heart of their batting order. Seven of their hits went for extra bases including a solo home run from Longoria off Pettitte in the sixth inning that cleared the right center field fence.
Later in the game, Longoria did further damage to the Yankees when his second home run of the night, a solo, opened up a 6-3 Tampa Bay lead in a three-run eighth inning.
The second home run by Longoria gave him a team leading 16th, his third multi-home run career game against the Yankees. Longoria, 2-for-3, recorded his 500th career RBI with a third inning sacrifice fly off Pettitte.
“He’s a wonderful young player and he keeps getting better assuming the leadership role within the group,” said Rays manage Joe Maddon about the 27-year- old Longoria.
Longoria was more elated about getting to Pettitte and the Rays getting the first win of the series. He is the lone player in their lineup who has started every game this season and took over the team lead also in runs batted in.
“Kind of good to put the woes of Andy Pettitte behind me,” commented Longoria.
Pettitte (5-5) would last 6/2-3 innings, on five runs and nine hits. He struck out six, walked one, threw a wild pitch and gave up a lead -off home run to Longoria in the sixth that gave Tampa Bay a 4-0 lead. His ERA is at 4.20 and he lost his second straight start.
New York once again struggled at the plate and played small ball in a three-run, sixth inning. Reid Brignac led off the inning with a single, Brett Gardner and Jayson Nix walked With a struggling Robinson Cano at the plate the Yankees got their first run of the night when Tampa Bay starterMatt Moore threw a wild pitch that scored Brignac .
Cano then hit a long sacrifice fly to center that scored Gardner for the first run of the inning.
“Inning could have got out of hand,” said Moore. “Fortunate the way it turned out.” Moore (9-3) snapped his three-game losing streak and held the Yankees to three-runs, four hits in 6.1 innings. He has held the Yankees to three runs or less in five of his seven starts against them.
The Rays got a run back in the seventh. After Pettitte got the first two outs in the inning, Desmond Jennings doubled to left and Sean Rodriguez drove him home with another double to deep left center.
Pettitte was finished for the night. Joba Chamberlain relieved him and got Longoria to end the ending swinging for a third strike.
Right now the Yankees are struggling and have been out-hit 36-17 over the first three games of the homestand against the Dodgers and Rays. Girardi is hoping for better results when right hander David Phelps (4-4) gets the ball for game two of the series Friday night.
“These are the guys who got us 12-games over,” commented Girardi about a Yankee team that is now 39-33. “Right now we are struggling and we need to get on a roll.”
Comment Rich Mancuso: Ring786@aol.com