Yankees’ slide continues with series-opening loss to Rays

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Fresh off getting swept by one of the league’s worst teams, the Yankees came home to start a huge week with series against the top two teams in the AL East.

“It starts today,” Aaron Boone said Monday morning.

The Yankees will have to give Tuesday a shot instead.

Monday, it was more of the same for the struggling Yankees offense, which mustered just five hits in a 3-1 loss to the Rays at Yankee Stadium.

After scoring only five runs on 23 hits in three games against the Tigers over the weekend — batting 2-for-25 with runners in scoring position — the Yankees only had two runners in scoring position all game Monday.

One came in the ninth inning, when Rougned Odor doubled with two outs, but Miguel Andujar then struck out to end the game.

Andujar had finally gotten the Yankees on the scoreboard in the seventh inning with a solo home run. But after pinch-hitter Gary Sanchez walked, with the season-high crowd of 17,008 on its feet, Brett Gardner struck out to end the threat.

The Rays (35-20) padded their lead atop the AL East while the Yankees (29-25), who welcome the Red Sox to The Bronx later this week, lost their fourth straight and fell 5.5 games out of first.

The Yankees came out aggressive against Rich Hill, who had shut them down across 6 ²/₃ scoreless innings on May 13. Monday, they swung at the first pitch in three of their four at-bats in the first inning and continued to hunt strikes early in the count.

Still, the soft-throwing Hill kept the Yankees off balance, allowing just three singles over five shutout innings.

Jameson Taillon, meanwhile, turned in a solid start for the Yankees but had no margin for error. He worked into the sixth inning for the second time this year, giving up three runs on five hits over five-plus innings.

The Rays struck first in the third inning. Kevin Kiermaier led off with their first hit of the day, a single to center, and scored on a double to right field by Manuel Margot. Taillon stranded Margot at third base, though, to keep the deficit to 1-0.

Austin Meadows hit a Yankee Stadium special to double the Rays’ lead in the fourth. The home run traveled 334 feet, landing in the short porch in right field, and had an expected batting average of .040, according to Statcast.

Kiermaier started another Rays rally in the fifth inning, roping a leadoff double to right-center field. He took third on a groundout and scored on Randy Arozarena’s two-out, line-drive single to make it 3-0.

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