Alex Cobb outstanding as Rays blank Yankees, 5-0
On paper, the Yankees' offense against Tampa Bay's pitching looked like a mismatch.
Looked that way on the field, too.
In other words, sometimes you can predict baseball.
And it didn't take much insight to predict that the Yankees would go quietly against Alex Cobb Friday night. Cobb and two relievers combined on a seven-hit shutout as the Rays beat the Yankees, 5-0, in front of 26,535 at Tropicana Field.
The loss was the Yankees' fifth straight, and the one constant in the defeats has been an offense for which words such as "lackluster," "sluggish" and "inept" seem inadequate.
The Yankees (61-59) have scored seven runs and have gone 28-for-161 (.174) in the five losses, including 2-for-31 with runners in scoring position.
"It's been tough," hitting coach Kevin Long said. "We haven't been able to score runs and there's been no consistency. We have to stay at it. Morale's down a little bit, but it's our job to try and keep it up and try to keep guys as positive as we can during a time like this."
The Yankees, who wasted another good outing by Brandon McCarthy, remained eight games behind the AL East-leading Orioles but fell 41/2 games behind the Mariners in the race for the second wild card.
"We're running out of time," Brett Gardner said. "Every day that goes by and we don't win makes us one step closer to being home at the end of September."
Cobb (8-6, 3.19) allowed six hits and one walk with eight strikeouts in 71/3 innings. In his career, he is 5-1 with a 1.75 ERA and 0.86 WHIP in 562/3 innings against the Yankees, who are 36-for-197 (.183) against him.
"He had all three pitches working tonight," Joe Girardi said of Cobb's fastball, curveball and changeup.
The Rays, who were 24-42 on June 2, moved to 61-61, becoming the fourth team in major-league history to reach .500 after being 18 games under (they also did it in 2004). They've allowed three or fewer runs in a club-record 11 straight games, posting a 1.69 ERA in that stretch.
Cobb was terrific, but the Yankees did have some chances. They had a leadoff single in innings 2-5, but the Yankees, who went 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven, never were able to capitalize, a common 2014 theme.
"It's not really baffling," Mark Teixeira said. "We're just not getting the job done. You win and lose as a team, and we definitely haven't been winning as a team lately because up and down the lineup, we just can't get it done. We all need to step it up."
With one out in the eighth, Francisco Cervelli singled and Gardner walked to end Cobb's night, and Brad Boxberger allowed a single by Derek Jeter (two hits) to load the bases. Boxberger then struck out Jacoby Ellsbury and Teixeira.
"Ells and I were talking, we didn't feel like we got a pitch to hit," said Teixeira, who took a called third strike. "The guy throws 96 with a good changeup and we just couldn't get it done."
McCarthy, who took his first loss as a Yankee when they were shut out by Cleveland last Saturday, allowed four runs (two earned), seven hits and one walk with seven strikeouts in 61/3 innings. He is 4-2 with a 2.30 ERA as a Yankee and 7-12 overall.
"I think we're better than where we're at, I do," said Girardi, whose team has 42 games to make a charge that few outsiders see coming. "I think we have the ability to score more runs, which would produce more wins."
As Gardner pointed out, however, time is not on the Yankees' side.