While the Yankees waited on whether Sonny Gray would be heading to The Bronx from Oakland, some of their flaws finally caught up to them in a 5-3 loss to the Rays on Sunday.
Jordan Montgomery was knocked out in the third inning — in part because of Joe Girardi’s newfound eagerness to go to his bullpen, but also because the rookie left-hander wasn’t effective.
And unlike on Saturday, when the Yankees overcame a short outing by starter Caleb Smith, they weren’t able to come back again despite threatening in the fifth and sixth innings.
And in the bottom of the ninth, Aaron Judge game to the plate with two on and one out. But Judge popped out and Matt Holliday, in an even worse slump, grounded out to end it.
They saw their six-game winning streak snapped and were unable to complete a four-game sweep of Tampa Bay. But because Boston lost to the Royals, the Yankees stayed in first place in the AL East by half a game.
On a day they acquired left-hander Jaime Garcia from Minnesota in exchange for two minor leaguers, Montgomery gave up four runs in just 2 ²/₃ innings, the shortest outing of his brief MLB career.
He gave up a two-out single to Trevor Plouffe that scored Steven Souza Jr. from second to give the Rays a 1-0 lead in a 23-pitch first.
Ronald Torreyes took right-hander Jacob Faria deep with two outs in the second for a two-run shot that made it 2-1. It was Torreyes’ third homer of the season.
The Rays responded by loading the bases with one out in the third.
Girardi, who went to his bullpen in the fourth inning on Saturday, had Luis Cessa up in the third Sunday.
Montgomery struck out Plouffe for the second out, but Corey Dickerson singled to center on a 1-2 curveball to drive in a pair of runs and put Tampa Bay back up, 3-2.
After a visit from pitching coach Larry Rothschild, Montgomery gave up another RBI single to Ramos to end his afternoon, trailing 4-2.
Cessa fanned Tim Beckham to get out of the inning and retired the first five batters he faced — striking out four.
Torreyes came through again in the fourth. After Todd Frazier drew a four-pitch walk with two outs, Torreyes laced a double into the left-field corner to score Frazier from first to cut the deficit to 4-3.
An inning later, the Yankees squandered a chance to at least tie the game.
Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier walked to start the bottom of the fifth, forcing Faria from the game after eight strikeouts and five walks.
Sergio Romo entered and immediately threw a wild pitch.
With runners on second and third and no one out, Romo recovered and whiffed the struggling Judge. Holliday then popped to first for the second out. Didi Gregorius, facing lefty Dan Jennings, grounded to short to end the threat.
Torreyes’ magic touch continued in the sixth with Frazier at first and one out. What looked like a harmless grounder to short was thrown away by Adeiny Hechavarria and the Yankees had runners on the corners.
Steve Cishek hit Austin Romine to load the bases for Gardner. But Gardner, the hero on Thursday and Saturday, grounded to first and Frazier was forced at home. That left it to Clint Frazier, who flied to left.
Souza had an RBI double off Chad Green in the eighth to make it 5-3.