Not even the friendly confines of Yankee Stadium could awake the Yankees from their recent slumber.
Arriving home on Monday from a brutal road trip, it didn’t get any better in The Bronx as the Yankees were shut out for a second straight night in a 4-0 loss to the Rays. In front of an impatient crowd of 42,192, the Yankees (72-44) lost for the 10th time in their last 12 games. They have scored just eight runs over their last six games, including three shutouts, after scattering seven hits against five Rays pitchers on Monday night.
“We’re getting shut down right now,” manager Aaron Boone said. “That needs to change. We gotta score. I can sit here and talk to you about it; we need to go do it. Be prepared, walk out there with some swagger and confidence and get it done.”
The back-to-back shutouts were the Yankees’ first since 2016. Both have come without DJ LeMahieu (toe inflammation) atop the lineup while the club is also missing Giancarlo Stanton (Achilles inflammation) and Matt Carpenter (broken foot).
It was a rough way to start a key nine-game homestand against the Rays, Blue Jays and Mets. With the win, the Rays (61-53) climbed into a tie with the Blue Jays for second place in the AL East, 10 games behind the Yankees. Since leading the division by a season-high 15 ½ games on July 8, the Yankees are 11-21.
“When you’re up, it seems like you’re never going to get down,” said Anthony Rizzo, who went 1-for-4 with three strikeouts and had a hit-by-pitch taken away from him. “When you’re down, you think you’ll never get up again. That’s the way baseball [and] life is in general. We just gotta ride the storm.”
It was a 1-0 game until the ninth inning, when the Rays piled on three insurance runs against Wandy Peralta and Lou Trivino.
Aaron Hicks was the face of the Yankees’ struggles on Monday, combining a defensive blunder in center field that gave the Rays the lead with an 0-for-3 offensive effort in which he left five men on base. The boos for him only got louder as the night went on.
“Just overall, extremely embarrassing,” Hicks said.
The listless offensive performance wasted a second straight strong start from Gerrit Cole, who held the Rays to one run over six innings.
“We need a spark,” Cole said. “But it just seems to be tough to come by right now.”
The Yankees had their chances early, but two of them were flushed by Hicks. He struck out with runners on first and second to end a threat in the second inning and then grounded into a 1-2-3 double play with the bases loaded to end the fourth.
The double play came after Hicks had a hand in the Rays taking a 1-0 lead in the top of the fourth. David Peralta led off with a bullet to center field that Hicks misjudged and then got twisted around on, allowing it to bounce on the warning track for a triple. Isaac Paredes came up next and, with the infield at medium depth, shot a single through the left side to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
The Yankees’ frustrations were exacerbated with one out and one on in the third inning, when Rizzo was hit in the leg by a Ryan Yarbrough curveball but was not awarded first base. Home-plate umpire D.J. Reyburn ruled that Rizzo did not make an attempt to get out of the way. After Rizzo and Boone argued to no avail, Rizzo struck out chasing a pitch outside.
“Bad call,” Boone said. “Where’s he supposed to go?”
Rizzo returned to the dugout and repeatedly slammed his helmet on the batting rack.
“Whenever you feel like you got screwed over on a call, at any time it’s annoying,” Rizzo said. “We’re out here competing at the highest level. I’m up here talking to [the media]. I feel like umpires have zero accountability when they miss something like that.”