ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Having lost 13 of their previous 18 games here, it was unlikely the Yankees were going to pull off a sweep of the Tampa Bay Rays under at Tropicana ield. So today's 8-3 loss can't come as a complete surprise. However, CC Sabathia's persistent struggles certainly can; after the way he pitched today, it will be interesting to hear what Joe Girardi has to say in his defense.
CC = Can't Compete: Not here, anyway. Sabathia's run of futility at The Trop continued today, in which he allowed a season-high seven earned runs, eclipsing his previous high of five earned runs on April 24, which of course, happened right here. Four of those runs came on two-run homers by Sean Rodriguez and James Loney. Since becoming a Yankee, Sabathia is 3-10 in this ballpark and has not won a game here since April 10, 2010. More alarmingly for the Yankees, their nominal ace is now officially 0-for-May, having lost twice, gotten three no decisions and run up an ERA of 4.80. Overall, Sabathia is now 4-4 with a 3.98 ERA. About the only positive note is that once again, he saved the bullpen, giving the Yankees seven innings.
Cobb Salad: For the second time this season, the Yankees were shredded by Rays right-hander Alex Cobb, who took a three-hit shutout against them into the ninth inning here on April 24 and pitched essentially the same game today, holding the Yankees to two singles, one of them a blown call at first (see below), until Ichiro Suzuki tripled in the eighth when Desmond Jennings missed a diving attempt at catching his liner to shallow center. Cobb walked one and struck out seven in April; he walked none and struck out eight. And like April, he tired late, allowing a home run to Brett Gardner and a single to Robinson Cano before leaving the game with one out in the ninth.
Sloppy Second: The Yankees made a defensive mess of the second inning, costing themselves two runs when, with a runner at first -- Sabathia hit Sean Rodriguez with a pitch -- and one out, David Adams fielded a potential double-play grounder by Yunel Escobar but threw high to second, pulling Cano off the bag. Sabathia then broke James Loney's bat, but his dribbler was hit too slowly for Travis Hafner to get the out at second, and since Sabathia failed to cover first, everyone was safe and the Rays had the bases loaded. Sabathia then broke Jose Lobaton's bat, too, but his bloop to center dropped between Jayson Nix and Gardner, scoring the first run, and Sam Fuld's sacrifice fly brought home the second.
That's Sean, not Alex, right?: Sean Rodriguez' two-run home run off Sabathia was only his second of the year -- his first was off Andy Pettitte when the Yankees were here in April -- and only his third off a lefty since Sept. 21, 2011, when he homered off, you guessed it, Sabathia. In fact. S-Rod loooooves hitting CC -- the home run gave him 11 hits in 32 career at-bats (.343) off Sabathia, including two home runs.
Mighty Adams: David Adams narrowly missed a grand slam in the ninth, doubling high off the left center field fence to drive in two runs after Cesar Ramos, working in relief of Cobb, had walked Travis Hafner and Lye Overbay to load the bases. The shot cut Tampa's lead to 8-3.
Hoye vey: Until Cano's clean single leading off the seventh inning, first-base umpire James Hoye was a controversy waiting to explode for calling Jayson Nix safe on a close play at first in the third inning. Replays showed he was clearly out, and the blown call was the only thing separating Cobb from a perfect game through the first six innings.
Not well: With Cobb dealing, no Yankee hit well today, but Vernon Wells did not hit all weekend. Wells, who has had his share of highlight reel moments this season, went 0-for-Tampa, going 0-for-14 in the three games here, although he did narrowly miss hitting a home run before Cobbb caught him looking in the seventh.
Don't get Huffy: The newest Yankee, David Huff, made his debut in relief of Sabathia, and allowed a run on a pair of walks and an RBI double by Jennings in the eighth.
What's next: Flight home tonight, followed by the first of four straight games against the Mets, the first two in Flushing beginning with Monday night's matchup of Phil Hughes (2-3, 5.51) and LHP Jonathon Niese (3-5, 4.80), first pitch at 7:10 p.m.