David Price 's start to the season hasn't been at all what most expected after he won last year's AL Cy Young Award.
The Rays (9-10) opened the three-game series at Tropicana Field with a 5-1 win Monday night as starter Matt Moore was dominant, allowing one run on two hits over eight innings. Meanwhile, they roughed up CC Sabathia for five runs on seven hits, including three home runs, while seizing their 12th home victory over the Yankees in 14 tries.
Price (0-1, 6.26 ERA) didn't go longer than six innings in any of his four starts. His early struggles come after a season in which he went 20-5 with a 2.56 ERA.
He threw six innings at Baltimore on Thursday, surrendering five runs on eight hits.
"It's a frustrating time for myself and this team right now," Price said. "I play this game to win, and most importantly, I want our team to win every fifth day when it's my time to pitch. I'm not helping the team right now so I'll have to make some adjustments and find what works."
Price fared well in his final three outings against the Yankees last season, going 2-0 with a 1.89 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 19 innings.
New York's struggles against the left-handed Moore on Monday were the continuation of an early trend. The Yankees are hitting .190 off lefties with far more strikeouts (54) than hits (42). They whiffed nine times against Moore.
Perhaps Tampa Bay's recent stellar pitching will also rub off on Price. The Rays have held opponents to two runs on eight hits over the last three contests.
"A lot of it is just feeding off each other," Moore said.
Accounting for both New York hits in the opener was Robinson Cano , who didn't seem particularly affected by a report Monday that linked a spokeswoman for his foundation to an anti-aging clinic under investigation by MLB. Cano, whom the woman said never received anything from the clinic, hit his sixth home run in the defeat.
"It has nothing to do with me," said Cano, hitting .333 with a team-leading 14 RBIs. "I'm just going to keep playing my game."
"It might be a couple more days," manager Joe Girardi said of Youkilis. "We'll see how he is (Tuesday)."
New York will give the ball to right-hander Phil Hughes (0-2, 6.43 ERA), who is also trying to iron things out after a shaky start. But his last outing seemed to be a step in the right direction, as he gave up two runs - both solo homers - and six hits in seven innings at Arizona on Thursday.
"I felt more like myself, being aggressive, attacking hitters," Hughes told the team's official website. "The first couple of starts I was being a little timid and felt out of sorts. I certainly felt like I was back to doing what I do."
|New York Yankees|
|April 22, 2013||Kevin Youkilis||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|April 12, 2013||Eduardo Nunez||Day-to-Day||Left game - right wrist contusion|
|March 26, 2013||Cesar Cabral||60-Day DL||Left elbow pain|
|March 22, 2013||Phil Hughes||15-Day DL||Right upper back thoracic injury|
|March 22, 2013||Mark Teixeira||15-Day DL||Strained right wrist - out 8-10 weeks|
|March 22, 2013||Derek Jeter||15-Day DL||Recovery from left ankle surgery|
|Tampa Bay Rays|
|March 31, 2013||Juan Carlos Oviedo||60-Day DL||Recovery from right elbow surgery|
|March 28, 2013||Jeff Niemann||60-Day DL||Right shoulder surgery - out for season|
|March 24, 2013||Luke Scott||15-Day DL||Strained right calf|
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) -- Struggling Ichiro Suzuki came up big for the New York Yankees .
Suzuki hit a go-ahead two-run single in the ninth inning and the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 Tuesday night.
"I haven't been able to do much, but hopefully things like this will help me get past it," Suzuki, who is hitting just .220 this season, said through a translator.
Robinson Cano ended AL Cy Young Award winner David Price 's night with a leadoff single in the ninth. After Cano stole second on a pitch by Fernando Rodney that struck out Vernon Wells , pinch-hitter Travis Hafner was intentionally walked and Lyle Overbay walked to load the bases.
First baseman James Loney helped Rodney by making a sliding catch on Chris Stewart 's foul ball, but Suzuki then drove in two for a 4-2 lead on a liner to center.
"We put some tough at-bats on some really tough pitchers," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Tampa Bay is winless in all five of Price's starts this year. The left-hander (0-2) allowed three runs and eight hits over eight-plus innings.
"I thought he threw the ball really well tonight, so if he throws the ball like that and we had scored four runs tonight, he walks away and feels like he was fantastic," Rays manager Joe Maddon said. "But we don't score enough runs and he doesn't feel as good about himself. That's just how this baseball thing works."
The only other team to lose the first five starts made by a reigning Cy Young winner was the 1989 Minnesota Twins . They lost in Frank Viola 's first seven starts before finally winning on May 9 that year.
A frustrated Price spent just about one minute talking with reporters after the game, saying that there is no satisfaction from what was called a better start and that he wanted to remain in the game.
"We're still 0-5 when I pitch, I don't feel good," Price said. "I want to be in that game. It's like it's my game to lose."
David Robertson (1-0) worked a perfect eighth before Mariano Rivera got his sixth save despite allowing Evan Longoria 's leadoff homer.
Suzuki singled with one out in the eighth, went to third on Jayson Nix 's single to left, and scored to get the Yankees even at 2 when Brett Gardner hit a grounder to second.
"I just had a feeling I could make it there," Suzuki said. "It was a steal and I was just running. I didn't see where he hit the ball but I heard it, and luckily when I looked up I saw the ball in front of me."
Tampa Bay took a 2-1 lead in the seventh on Jose Molina 's run-scoring single off Phil Hughes , who allowed two runs and six hits in seven innings.
"I felt like I had to pitch well," Hughes said. "Price wasn't going to continue the way he'd been throwing. I knew he was going to be tough, and I though the game was over in the seventh after making that bad pitch (to Molina). But thankfully the guys fought back hard and got us the win."
Ben Zobrist put the Rays up 1-0 on a first-inning sacrifice fly.
The Yankees tied it at 1 on Wells' RBI single in the fourth, but Price avoided further damage by getting a fly ball from Ben Francisco and Overbay's double-play grounder with runners on first and second with no outs.
Maddon's effort during the current homestand to keep his team loose Tuesday featured a cockatoo, which he had in clubhouse and later on his shoulder as he held his pregame media session. In previous games, Maddon had a DJ play music in the clubhouse and a magician do card tricks, and promised a big animal finale on Wednesday night when the homestand ends.
"Snakes are out," Maddon said. "I will not be in the clubhouse with a snake. Regardless of what people say, I'm not on board with that."
Yankees infielder Kevin Youkilis was out of the starting lineup for the third straight game with lower back tightness. Girardi expects Youkilis will also miss Wednesday's series finale.
NOTES: Price has given up six leads over his last three starts. ... New York SS Derek Jeter will be in a walking boot for a left ankle injury when rejoins the team Thursday at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees captain found out last Thursday that he fractured the ankle for a second time in six months. ... Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira (wrist) continues taking dry swings with a bat, but hasn't started hitting off a tee. ... Rivera met with a group of wounded soldiers and veterans before the game. The closer, who is retiring after the season, is taking part in events like that in road ballparks this year. ... Longoria has reached base in 34 straight games dating to last season.