It wasn't hard to figure out why most of the people in the stands at Yankee Stadium had come to the Bronx on Thursday night.
Every time Derek Jeter came to the plate, the Stadium leapt to its collective feet with loud standing ovations that would turn into an eerie silence just before Tampa pitchers delivered each pitch. At that point, the crowd replaced sound with camera flashes and the game became a gigantic photo shoot.
Jeter gave them some of what they wanted right away, doubling into center on the first pitch Jeff Niemann threw him and sending the crowd into a tizzy. There wouldn't be much more noise from the seats over the rest of the night.
You can thank Niemann for a good bit of that silence. The right-hander was sharp as a machete on Thursday night, allowing only Robinson Cano's solo home run over 7.1 innings of work that provided little enjoyment in between Jeter at-bats.
You can also thank (or blame, as the case may be) the Yankees starting pitcher for taking the air out of the balloon. Bartolo Colon turned in one of his worst performances of the season thanks to a lifeless fastball that left him relying more than usual on his secondary stuff.
The results were a pair of Rays homers, four walks after allowing 18 all year coming into the game and early inning rallies that would have been much worse if Colon didn't induce a pair of double plays. He allowed all five runs in the 5-1 loss and made it pretty easy to focus on Jeter and Jeter only because of the way Niemann was shutting down everyone else.
There actually was one other moment that gave the crowd some life. That was when Kyle Farnsworth came in to pitch the ninth and got the same kind of reaction from fans that he got when he was stinking up the Yankees bullpen.
He pulled off a particularly Farnsworthian move by striking out Brett Gardner on a wild pitch with two outs in the ninth. Gardner reached first, giving Jeter one more shot at a hit but he was thrown out on a slow roller to third and the crowd filed out without seeing the history they wanted to witness.
They had to settle for seeing the Yankees lose for the fourth time in five games and drop out of first place. Assuming, of course, they noticed.