Yankees embarrassed by Rays with wild-card spot on the line
After looking like a postseason team in series at Boston and Toronto, the Yankees returned home with a chance to seal a trip to the playoffs, yet have played like they aren’t ready.
The Yankees had a chance to secure a wild-card spot with a win Saturday, but they got pounded by the Rays, 12-2, in The Bronx to keep them waiting for their fate.
Jordan Montgomery gave up a pair of three-run homers to Brandon Lowe — who added a third home run in the seventh inning — and the Yankees lost their second straight to the first-place Rays, who have already sealed the AL East title and the top seed in the AL playoffs.
It was an ill-timed clunker from Montgomery, who had his worst start of the season.
Montgomery had allowed just three runs over 16 ¹/₃ innings in his previous three starts before matching that total in the first inning Saturday. Things only got worse, as he gave up a career-high three homers and seven earned runs in just 2 ²/₃ innings.
Montgomery walked Randy Arozarena to lead off the game. Wander Franco followed with a single through the left side of the infield after fouling off three two-strike pitches to give the Rays runners on first and second with no one out.
Montgomery got Nelson Cruz to pop to shallow right for the first out before Yandy Diaz ripped a liner to left. Joey Gallo made a sensational diving catch to prevent at least one run from scoring.
An out away from escaping the inning unscathed, Montgomery then gave up a three-run homer to right to Lowe. It was just the third home run Montgomery has allowed to a lefty-swinger this season.
Anthony Rizzo’s one-out solo shot into the second deck in right field in the bottom of the inning off rookie right-hander Shane Baz — who was making his third major league start — got the Yankees a run closer.
Aaron Judge followed with a four-pitch walk.
Baz fell behind Giancarlo Stanton 2-0 before Stanton popped to short for the second out and Gallo whiffed to end Baz’s 30-pitch first inning.
Montgomery and Baz both rebounded with strong second innings.
Montgomery had two on and out when Lowe came up in the third and homered again to make it 6-1.
Mike Zunino followed Lowe with another homer off Montgomery, putting the Yankees in a 7-1 hole.
The lefty was finally yanked with two outs in the inning, but not before a double by Manuel Margot. Lucas Luetge got the final out of the inning.
Baz walked Rizzo with one out in the third and was pulled for ex-Yankees prospect J.P. Feyereisen, who got Judge to fly out to the track in right.
Gallo reached on a one-out single against the shift in the fourth and scored on Gio Urshela’s triple to right.
But Brett Gardner and Gary Sanchez popped out to strand Urshela.
Rizzo reached on a two-out error by Lowe at second base and Judge hit a hard grounder down the third-base line, where a diving Diaz made a fine stop and throw to end the inning.
Franco’s RBI single off Luetge with two outs in the sixth made it 8-2.
Lowe homered for a third time in the game when he led off the seventh against Michael King with his 39th of the season.