Rays Sting Yanks, 7-1

In the first game of this four-game series against the Tampa Bay Rays, Andy Pettitte did not have a good start, as he pitched very poorly in the Yankees 7-1 loss.

Pettitte lasted only four innings, giving up 5 earned runs, on 8 hits, and 2 walks, while striking out five. Andy’s won-loss record dropped below .500 to 3-4, as the Yankees also fell below the .500 mark [again] to 19-20.

After scoring a run in the 2nd, the main damage by the Rays was done in the fourth inning, when they stung Pettite for four runs, knocking him out of the game. Chris Britton gave up a run in the 5th; and, Jose Veras allowed the Rays their final run in the 7th inning. That was basically the ballgame, as the Yankee bats looked flat, and it was the Rays that reeled in the win on this night.

The Rays starter, Matt Garza, was brilliant, allowing the Yankees only 5 hits and one walk over seven solid shutout innings. Garza is now 2-1.

This was the Tampa Bay Rays fifth straight win, and 10th straight win at home, bringing their record to 22-16. They are one-half game behind the AL East leading Boston Red Sox, who after losing 3 of 4 to the Twins, have a season record of 24-17. The Boston loss also resulted in a “draw” on the night for the Yankees as they stay only three-games behind the Red Sox in the loss column.

For the Rays, this is their best start in team history, but so far they are not getting the support of the local baseball fans. Only 13,932 attended the game last night. So, I guess, even with the Yankees as the visiting team, the “Dome” is just not a “fan friendly” place to be.

The best news of the night for the Yankees was the great game that Alberto Gonzalez had. He went 2-3, raising his batting average to .310. Gonzalez is replacing the injured Wilson Betemit, and just as he did earlier in the season, when he was called up to play short when Derek Jeter was on the DL, Alberto has been very impressive.

Even when he made out, it was a very productive at bat. In the top of the 8th inning, Jose Molina doubled, and was moved to third on Gonzalez’s groundout to second base, which set-up the Yankees only run of the game.

Alberto Gonzalez has earned a spot on this Yankees team as the backup infielder. He is an excellent fielder, with great speed, and good situational hitting instincts. It is time the Yankees make room for Gonzalez on the big-league roster, as he has proven that he is more valuable to this Yankees team than either Wilson Betemit or Morgan Ensberg.

And, so it goes.

The Yankees continue this series with Chien-Ming Wang pitching in game number two, followed by Mike Mussina in Wednesday’s game.

The big news of the day was that the Yankees exiled Kei Igawa to the bullpen, and recalled Ian Kennedy to be the starter in the final game of this series on Thursday. This shift in pitchers, will move Darrell Rasner’s next start forward one game, to Friday, as he will now be the Yankees starting pitcher in the opening game of the three-game weekend series against the Mets, at Yankee Stadium.

Ian Kennedy pitched a solid eight shutout innings in two outings at AAA – Scranton/Wilkes Barre, but will now be returning to the pressure-cooker atmosphere of New York. Every game the Yankees play “there is pressure to win”. So, to be successful in New York, and be a successful member of the New York Yankees, dealing with the pressure is part of the deal. Hopefully, that is the most important lesson that Ian Kennedy learned in his brief trip to SWB.

The Yankees are depending on all of their “Big Three” [Joba Chamberlain, Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy] young pitchers to pitch well. So far, only Joba has lived up to the billing, and has been excellent in his role as 8th-inning set-up man. Ian Kennedy gets a second chance this Thursday to make a good first impression. The only thing in his way, is letting the pressure “get in his way”. Mr. Kennedy, welcome back to the Major Leagues.

A final note …..

Belated  “Best Wishes”  to Yogi Berra, as he celebrated his birthday yesterday, May 12th.

Happy Birthday, Yogi !!!    

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