The Tampa Bay Rays have played nearly 10 hours of baseball the last two nights against their biggest rivals only to suffer disheartening one-run losses.
They’ll try to avoid a fourth straight defeat Tuesday night when they continue a four-game home set against the New York Yankees.
Tampa Bay (50-44) fell 1-0 in 16 innings to Boston on Sunday in a game that lasted 5 hours, 44 minutes. The Rays then opened this series by blowing a three-run lead in a 5-4 loss to New York (56-37) in a game that took just over 4 hours.
The losses have dropped Tampa Bay a season-high eight games out of the AL East lead behind the Red Sox. The Rays, who have not lost four straight since their 0-6 start, trail the Yankees by 6 1/2 for the wild card.
“It’s not a very optimal position,” manager Joe Maddon said. “But believe me, I’m not losing any kind of hope on this one.”
Tampa Bay managed one walk and three hits Sunday and matched that output by scoring three runs in the first inning Monday. The Rays led 4-1 after two before the Yankees took advantage of a depleted bullpen to rally.
“We had opportunities to get more runs and we did not do it,” said Maddon, whose club went 3 for 13 with runners in scoring position.
New York scored twice in the eighth to tie the game before Russell Martin(notes) walked with the bases loaded in the ninth. Mariano Rivera(notes) finished up for his 59th save in 60 chances against the Rays.
“It’s a big win, especially when you come back late like that,” Martin said. “It seemed like they had our number the whole night and we were just able to rally late. Everybody played their part. Getting walks. Getting knocks here and there. So definitely a big team win.”
The Yankees have won three straight, although they have failed to homer for a season-high four games in a row. New York is 4-2 against Tampa Bay.
Bartolo Colon(notes) (6-5, 3.47 ERA) will try to avoid losing his third straight start for New York. He failed to get out of the first inning for the second time in his career and was charged with eight runs - three earned - in Thursday’s 16-7 loss at Toronto.
The veteran right-hander lost prior to that July 7 against the Rays, allowing five runs and a season-high 10 hits in a 5-1 defeat.
Jeremy Hellickson(notes) (8-7, 3.21) will pitch for Tampa Bay after he ended a four-start losing streak his last time out. Hellickson gave up three runs over 7 1-3 innings July 3 in an 8-3 victory over St. Louis after going 0-4 with a 4.74 ERA over his previous four outings.
The right-hander has never started against the Yankees. He was scheduled to start before the All-Star break in New York before the game was postponed due to rain.