Bronx, NY---The Tampa Rays swept the three game series with the Yanks by winning the final contest of the year in Yankee Stadium, 4-0, on Thursday night. The victory was the seventh straight for the surging Rays.
The focus of the evening was on the outstanding pitching by the two young, talented, right-handed starters, Ivan Nova and Alex Cobb. Nova’s most recent start was his second complete game, shutout of 2013.
Yankee double plays kept Tampa runs off the board in the first and second frames. After retiring all three batters in the third, Nova ran into difficulties in the fourth.
Sensational rookie Wil Myers led off with a single. The dangerous “road warrior” James Loney drew a base on balls. “Yankee killer” Evan Longoria singled in the first run of the game.
The only other Tampa run off Nova was scored in the seventh when Delmon Young homered to center to lead-off the inning.
Despite the outcome of the contest, Nova pitched impressively in his final start of the year. He surrendered eight hits and two runs in seven innings.
Tampa starter Alex Cobb pitched even more impressively than Nova. Last week’s American League Player of the Week is making a bid to be a repeat winner of the award. After Eduardo Nuñez singled with one out in the first, the 25 year-old did not give up another hit until Curtis Granderson led off the eighth with a double. The last batter to face Cobb, Lyle Overbay, singled.
Reliever Joel Peralta retired the next three batters. Thus, Cobb blanked the Yankees on only three hits. Cobb earned his eighth victory in his last nine decisions. He has lost only once in his last 17 starts and only yielded more than three earned runs in three of his 22 starts this year.
The Yankees were shut out by the Rays twice in the last three games. Their 12 shutouts this season are the most they have suffered since 1990.
Dellin Betances entered the game in the eighth. Ben Zobrist began the inning with a single and moved to third on a double by Loney. Both scored on a single to left by Longoria.
Loney, who was 3 for 3 with a walk, raised his major league leading road batting average to .363 (92 for 262). He is batting an astounding .475 (19 for 40) at Yankee Stadium, the highest mark since Red Kress (.512) in 1938.
Longoria, 2 for 4 with 3 RBI, continued his mastery of Yankee pitching. The young and very talented third sacker improved his 2013 batting average versus New York to .338 (26 for 77) with 9 home runs and 20 RBI in 19 games.
Although the game was meaningless for the Yankees as they were eliminated from post-season play one day earlier, the emotions of everyone in the park were stirred by the entrance of Mariano Rivera with one out in the eighth. He received a prolonged and deserved standing ovation before he threw his first pitch. He retired both batters he faced to end the inning.
To the delight of the capacity crowd, he returned to the mound for the ninth inning. After retiring the first two batters, his long-time teammates and friends, Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte, walked to the mound to escort him the game.
Rivera, overcome with emotion, hugged Pettitte and broke down into sobs. After the game, Rivera exclaimed, “The emotions bombarded me. The fans the opposing team, everyone on their feet. It has no price.” Pettitte called it, “A moment I’ll never forget.” The Rays had left the dugout and all were on their applauding as were the police officers on the field and the fans in the stands. Many, in addition to Rivera, were in tears.
After the last out of the inning was made, Andy Pettitte’s name was chanted by the fans. The Rays remained in their dugout and urged the retiring left-hander to come on the field. Another standing ovation was given and responded to by Pettitte before the game could continue.
The loss was far less important to the fans than their opportunity to bid a loving farewell to two great Yankees.