Out of all the left-handed hitters David Price has faced since making his major league debut in Sept. 2008, nobody has displayed better power than Curtis Granderson.
With one out and two on, down by four runs in the fifth inning, the Yankees could have used that power from Granderson.
Granderson did not deliver in that spot and neither did the rest of the lineup, coming up empty in a 7-3 loss the Rays last night.
“Anytime throughout the game we weren’t able to get runs,” Granderson said. “So that’s the whole thing; you have to score when you get an opportunity to do it, especially against a guy like that. We tried to get him early and often, but we weren’t able to go out and do that.”
“We made Price work really hard,” manager Joe Girardi said. “We had some opportunities. We just weren’t able to do anything.”
Granderson struck out four times for the fifth time in his career with three coming against Price, whom he is 8-for-41 with 15 strikeouts against. Despite those numbers Granderson is the only left-handed hitter to hit a home run more than once off Price, who has only allowed eight home runs against lefties in his career.
“I’ve never really had good success against him,” Granderson said. “As of recently I’ve gotten a couple of hits. It’s just the fact that he’s been that good. Righties and lefties all seem to struggle against him.”
While Granderson’s second swing and a miss strikeout on Price’s fastball was a big out, the biggest out came two batters later when Alex Rodriguez stepped in.
Rodriguez had one of the three Yankee hits off Price, but also struck out looking on a fastball in the third, barely taking the bat off his shoulder.
In the fifth, Rodriguez came up for the 10th time this season with the bases loaded and 11 pitches later he was retired. He fell behind 1-2 on Price’s curveball, fouled off three more pitches and reached a full count.
With the crowd anticipating a big hit and making some of its loudest noise of the season, Rodriguez came up short. Price threw him a curveball, but Rodriguez started his swing late and swung over a curve that nipped the outside corner.
“Alex fouled off a bunch of tough pitches, a bunch of curveballs,” Girardi said. “You got a guy throwing 98 miles per hour. He made pitch after pitch after pitch and that’s what made him tough.”
Rodriguez’s strikeout killed some of kind of buzz in the crowd, but Robinson Cano followed with a soft groundout to second that dropped him to 1-for-12 with the bases loaded this year.
“I haven’t been doing my job,” Cano said. “There’s no excuses for that.”
Price beat the Yankees with a final line that was better than CC Sabathia.
While Price allowed one run and three hits with eight strikeouts, Sabathia allowed five runs (three earned) and seven hits while striking out 12 in seven innings.
It was Sabathia’s 30th career double-digit strikeout game. It also was his first loss in a double-digit strikeout game since July 29, 2007 and third overall.
Sabathia was not helped by Rodriguez defensively. Rodriguez booted an Elliot Johnson ground ball with one out in the third and the Rays scored a pair of unearned runs before adding two in the fourth on Drew Sutton’s two-run double to left field.
“It’s part of the game,” Sabathia said. “These guys have been playing great defense behind me. It’s frustrating not being able to make pitches and to not pick guys up.”
Follow Yankees beat writer Larry Fleisher on Twitter @LarryFleisher.