New York Yankees left fielder Aaron Hicks was pulled from the team's 4-2 loss to the Rays on Friday night after a pair of defensive miscues led to three Tampa Bay runs -- and a bunch of vitriol from fans in the Bronx.
The problems for Hicks started with two outs in the fourth inning. Wander Franco sliced a liner to left field that Hicks tracked down, only to watch it bounce off his glove and to the ground. Hicks briefly stopped pursuing the ball -- he later said he thought it was foul -- before realizing it was in play. But it was too late, as two Tampa Bay runners came around to score, giving the Rays a 3-0 lead.
Randy Arozarena then stepped up and sent a long fly ball to left that Hicks was unable to corral, leading to another run.
Fans let Hicks hear it, showering the veteran outfielder with boos and even some "Joey Gallo" chants -- a reference to the Yankees outfielder traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers last month after a dismal year in New York.
Hicks was replaced in the field in the next inning by Estevan Florial.
"I just felt like I needed to get him out of there at that point, so it was just the decision I made at that point," manager Aaron Boone told reporters after the game.
"The second one [the Arozarena hit] is a really tough one. And the first one [the Franco hit] I thought he got a pretty good jump on and ran it down. Yeah, it's disappointment. There's a level of feeling for him there. I just felt like at that time I needed to make the change."
Boone was asked if the fans' reaction to Hicks was a contributing factor in his decision.
"I guess it's all part of baked into why I made the decision, feeling like it was having an effect," he said. "I just felt like I needed to do it."
Hicks, meanwhile, said both fly balls were ones he should have caught.
"I got benched during the game. That's rough," said Hicks, who also struck out in his only two at-bats. "Especially when all you want to do is produce for your team.
"It is what it is. I just have to prepare for tomorrow."
Hicks has struggled mightily this season for New York, hitting just .212 with six home runs and 36 RBIs. He has been playing regularly of late in the wake of a broken wrist suffered by left fielder Andrew Benintendi last week.
The Rays, meanwhile, continued to gain ground in the American League East and now trail the first-place Yankees by 3½ games with the middle game of the series set for Saturday.