Rays sweep Yankees behind bullpen

by Gary Shelton on April 19, 2021

in general

Yarbrough pitched one of his better games./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

No, really. Who are these guys?

By now, the New York Yankees know the sight of the Tampa Bay Rays as they dance off another baseball field. By now, they have learned there is nothing subservient about these guys. By now, they know as pests go, these guys are hard to kill.

But, really. Who are those guys? And why does this keep happening?

The Rays did it again Sunday afternoon, beating the rich kids from the Bronx in a 4-2 victory. It gave the Rays five wins in six games against the Yankees this season, and a 13-3 record against them over the last two. The Yankees had three hits Sunday and just 11 in the three-game series.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

Hey, these are the Yankees, the kids who wrote baseball history. Ten of their players make more than $10 million a year. The entire American League is supposed to part like the Red Sea to ease their passing.

So who is this Yoshi Tsutsugo, and why is lacing the game-winning hit against Gerrit Cole, whose $36-million salary is half what the entire Rays' roster earns? Tustsugo entered the game hitting .154. In his previous five games, Tsutsugo was hitting .077.

Yet, there he was in the seventh, driving a double to knock in the Rays' go-ahead run.

And while we're at it, who is this Ryan Yarbrough cat? Yarbs had won only one of his previous 10 games before Sunday and had lost his spot in the rotation. But Yarbrough went five innings of relief Sunday afternoon, allowing just two hits and one earned run to get the win.

And how about this Cody Reed guy? Reed had pitched in the majors for six years, but Sunday was only his second save, and his first since 2017.

The entire Rays lineup is that way. It's Joey Wendle -- Cash calls him the Big Bopper -- hitting another home run. It's Diego Castillo getting four crucial outs in the seventh and eighth. It's Yandy Diaz driving in a run. It's Andrew Kittredge getting the start.


On the days the Rays are good, when the pitching is on and bats are awake, it is the best of them, that pucky underdog air of theirs.

"It's a  tough place to win games," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said of the sweep. "It’s a very, very good team that we’re playing against. You’ve got to step up and play together, work together. We did that really well. We were fortunate to come out with three games."

Sunday was the uphill game, facing an elite pitcher such as Cole while trying to piece together a bullpen day. Yarbrough helped with his five innings.

"Yarbs is such a big part of what we do," Cash said. "I know his last couple of outings haven’t gone the way he wanted — or we wanted. But he can pitch and today he dialed it up and kept New York quiet for the most part. There was a lot of soft contract, a lot of quality pitches they couldn’t do much with."

Still, it was 2-2 until the seventh, when Tsutsugo had the biggest hit of his Rays' tenure.

"We were all pumped for Yoshi, knowing he’s been through a rough stretch lately," Cash said.  "Yoshi has been working really hard. Anytime you're working hard behind the scenes and you get some reward, it’s going to be good for your psyche. The team has put their arms around him and everyone has let him know ‘you’re a big part of what we’re doing.'"

Reed, normally a set-up guy, came in to finish the ninth.

"We just like how his stuff is trending up," Cash said. "He’s guy who we liked a lot when we acquired him. He's another example of a guy who can have some really tough stuff to square up. That is big for him. I don't know if coming out of spring training that he envisioned he’d be closing out a Sunday afternoon against the Yankees, but we’ve got all the confidence in the world in him. We’re going to need him."

The Rays now travel to Kansas City to face the Royals at 810 p.m. The Rays will start Josh Fleming against Kansas City's Danny Duffy.

Previous post:

Next post: