NEW YORK -- — Sluggish to start their AL title defense, the Tampa Bay Rays have found their bearings in the Bronx.
“This venue can motivate you really quick," manager Kevin Cash said.
The Rays won their second straight in this series after enduring a 3-8 stretch, improving to 7-8 overall. The reigning AL champions are 4-1 against New York this season and 7-1 at Yankee Stadium since the start of 2020. They have won seven straight series against New York, including last year’s Division Series, and taken 17 of 22 games since September 2019.
“Whatever you're going through before you get here, you better find a way to wipe it out,” Cash said. “Because you have to stay at the top of your game to compete here.”
The Yankees dropped to an AL-worst 5-9, the latest into a season New York has been at the bottom of the league since a 9-17 start in 1991, per Elias Sports. Fans in the Bronx again booed the Bombers as they lost their fourth straight, but the crowd was more restrained a day after some hurled baseballs and other items on the field late in an 8-2 loss to the Rays.
“I felt like we were much more in the fight today, which is at least a good thing,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “But we don’t want moral victories right now.”
Francisco Mejía hit a solo shot in the second off Jordan Montgomery (1-1), and Margot made it 3-1 with his homer off the left-hander in the fourth. Joey Wendle added a two-run shot against Jonathan Loaisiga in the seventh, and Mejía had an RBI double in the ninth.
Rougned Odor hit his first homer with the Yankees, a solo shot in the seventh off Jeffrey Springs, and Aaron Judge added an RBI single as New York tried to rally against the bullpen. Sidewinding right-hander Ryan Thompson got the ball to Diego Castillo in the ninth, though, and Castillo closed out his fourth save with a 1-2-3 inning.
New York catcher Gary Sánchez was hit in his right throwing hand by a foul ball in the fourth and exited an inning later. The club said X-rays were negative and that Sánchez is day to day with a contusion on his right index and middle fingers.
Glasnow (2-0) entered with 29 strikeouts and three walks over 19 2/3 innings this season, but his feel was off from the start. He walked four but also struck out seven and limited New York to two hits.
The 6-foot-8 right-hander labored early but stranded the bases loaded in the first. He finally seemed to have found his form when play was stopped in the fifth as he got a painful cramp in his left hand, along with tightness in his right calf and quad. Teammates brought him water and hydration gels, which he guzzled behind the mound while stretching his left thumb.
“That whole start was a grind," Glasnow said. “Out of 30-whatever starts per year, you're going to have some like that, but this one from start to finish was pretty taxing.”
The Yankees got a verbal lashing from Boone after Friday's loss but didn't seem any more inspired early on Saturday. New York warmed up with infield work instead of batting practice a day after committing three errors, and while the defense improved, but the bats remained an issue.
Limited to three hits Friday, New York got only a single each from LeMahieu and Aaron Hicks over the first six innings. The Yankees left seven on base and went 1 for 7 with runners in scoring position, dropping to 20 for 90 (.222) this season with men on second or third.
“It really all comes down to, when you get punched, how do you get back up,” Judge said. “Do you get back up and throw a punch, or does it take you a while?”
Montgomery, usually effective keeping the ball in the park, was undone by two Rays homers for the second straight start. They were the only two hits he allowed, but he was charged with four runs in six-plus innings, walking two and striking out seven on 86 pitches.
Yankees ace Gerrit Cole — set to start Sunday — is 2-0 with a 1.47 ERA, but the rest of New York's starters are 1-6 with a 6.39 ERA.
Rays: OF Kevin Kiermaier (strained left quadriceps) was activated before the game. He had been out since April 5 but took simulated at-bats before the game and was deemed ready. He entered as a defensive replacement in the eighth. ... RHP Chris Mazza was optioned to the alternate site. ... C Mejía was twice shaken up after being hit in the mask by foul balls but remained in the game.
Yankees: Boone said C Kyle Higashioka will start over Sánchez on Sunday, but he expects Sánchez to be available for the team's next game Tuesday. ... 1B Luke Voit (partial left knee meniscus tear) fielded grounders pregame and is expected to begin hitting Monday. Boone said there still is not a timeline for Voit's return, but the club is pleased with his progress.
Cole faces Tampa Bay on Sunday for the first time since last year's AL Division Series, when he allowed a run over 5 1/3 innings in a 2-1, Game 5 defeat. The Rays will use right-hander Andrew Kittredge (2-0) as an opener.
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