Defensive miscues prove costly for Rays

Fielding mistakes lead to 3 unearned runs for Yanks in 6th

Defensive miscues prove costly for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG -- Chris Archer spun to rip a pickoff throw to Logan Morrison and watched as the first baseman had to reach, unsuccessfully, across the body of Brett Gardner to try and catch it. The ball rolled toward the Rays' bullpen in right field, and by that time, Gardner was at third base.

What started as a scoreless tie in the sixth led to three unearned runs for the Yankees on the back of three Rays defensive miscues -- the difference in New York's 4-1 win at Tropicana Field on Friday evening.

"If you give a team extra outs, it's going to be costly," Archer said. "Especially the way [Masahiro] Tanaka was throwing. The fact that their bullpen is lockdown, we can't make those mistakes. We've been making them lately."

After Archer's poor throw, Taylor Motter botched a ball at second base. The run didn't score, but the out wasn't recorded. Then Brian McCann hit a sharp grounder to Morrison, who booted it and only got one out instead of turning two.

Alex Rodriguez made Tampa Bay pay with a long home run to center in the next at-bat. Tanaka threw seven scoreless innings, and the Yankees' bullpen shut the door. 

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The Rays have committed seven errors over the past four games, and they have a 1-3 record during that span. Before Friday's game, manager Kevin Cash said that defense had been a point of pride before this recent stretch. But after another game in which defense played a deciding factor, that sentiment is losing its luster.

"Our team is built to play good defense," Cash said. "We're not the type of club that's going to overcome a bunch of defensive miscues. We saw that show up in the Marlins series. We saw that show up a little bit today."

Archer said that he was "leaps and bounds" better than he had been in his previous start, when he lasted just three innings in Detroit. He lasted eight innings Friday, gave up just one earned run, and worked efficiently.

Archer fans Gardner

The difference between his great start and getting a win, though, came down to defensive struggles that started with his mistake in the sixth inning. 

"It was a classic example of, 'When you play a good team and you make mistakes, even one mistake can be costly,'" Archer said.

Sam Blum is a reporter for based in St. Petersburg. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.