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Rays 3, Yankees 4: Don’t Call It A Comeback

After trailing 3-0, the Rays kept the game close but could not close the gap

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays drop the first game of the homestand to the New York Yankees 4-3. The Rays drop to 8-6 against the Yankees this season.

Shane McClanahan got his 15th start of the season for the Rays with Jordan Montgomery on the mound for the Yankees.

It took a while for any scoring to happen in this game but the Yankees came out swinging in the first inning. DJ LeMahieu led off with a double and was followed by an Aaron Judge single that moved LeMahieu to third. A walk to Giancarlo Stanton following a Gary Sanchez strikeout loaded the bases. The inning ended with Gleyber Torres grounding into a double play, which continues to be a Yankees specialty this season.

The Rays had no hits in the first inning. Manuel Margot led off with a walk. Margot moved to second on a wild pitch only to get caught stealing third. Nelson Cruz had his first home plate appearance for the Rays also result in a walk but the inning ended with a Yandy Diaz flout.

In the second inning the Yankees threatened to score after Gio Urshela hit a double to left field and later advanced to third on a wild pitch. McClanahan was able to bounce back and strikeout the remaining two batters to get out of the inning.

Randy Arozarena hit a single on a hard-hit ground ball to left field. He advanced to second on a balk and watch from there as Brandon Lowe popped out to first and then Mike Zunino grounded out to third and move to the third inning still scoreless.

After retiring the Yankees in order in the top of the third the Rays kept showing signs of offensive life. Margot and Wander Franco hit back to back singles. Their efforts did not yield any runs as Nelson Cruz grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Torres came to the plate in the fourth for the Yankees and blasted a ball 406 feet with a 108.2 mph exit velocity at a 20 degree launch angle for a single. Yes, a single. Kevin Kiermaier doing Kiermaier things and took the ball off the bounce from the wall and fired it back to second base. Torres was smart not to test Kiermaier on the play. An Odor walk that moved Torres to second and then Gio Urshela and LaMarre would both ground into outs.

The Yankees scored the first run of the game in the fifth inning. Greg Allen started the inning with a double and scored on a LeMahieu single to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead.

New York kept the scoring going in the third thanks to a Torres single, Odor single, and Urshela double that scored two runs extending the Yankees lead to 3-0 after the top-half of the sixth inning.

Chad Green came in to replace Montgomery in the sixth inning and the Rays had to be excited to see the bullpen. Montgomery had a decent outing with 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, and 5K on 102 pitches.

The Rays responded in the bottom of the sixth starting with a Ji-Man Choi walk with one out. After Randy Arozarena struck out swinging Brandon Lowe came to the plate and hit his 22nd home run of the year (101.5 mph EV, 29 LA, 405 ft) to make it a 3-2 game.

Andrew Kittredge replaced McClanahan in the seventh inning. McClanahan finished with 6.0 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB and 6K on 89 pitches. Nothing was spectacular or overly concerning from McClanahan as the team was still in a competitive position when he was pulled from the game.

After both teams went scoreless in the seventh, the runs came back in the eighth. Ryan LaMarre extended the Yankees lead to two with a home run to right field off Jeffrey Springs. In the bottom of the inning the Rays brought the game back within one run as Diaz walked, moved to second on a wild pitch and scored on a ground-rule double from Randy Arozarena. The Rays had a chance to tie the game or take the lead when Arozarena moved to third on a Lowe single but the momentum ended with Zunino grounding into a double play. Yankees led 4-3 heading into the ninth inning.

The bottom of the ninth saw an exciting end to this game. Margot hit a line drive off Aroldis Chapman to center field (xBA .920) that Greg Allen made an amazing play on to record the second out of the inning. There was still hope as Franco turned a 0-2 count into a walk on four straight balls bringing Nelson Cruz to the plate as the potential go-ahead runner. In the inverse to the Franco plate appearance, Cruz started with a 0-3 count and then Chapman threw three straight strikes including a nasty slider for a swing and miss to end the game.

The Rays saw some good defensive performances and turned double plays off groundballs, though, it wasn’t enough and they drop the first game of the series.

The Rays will try to preserve the chance for a series win tomorrow night at 7:10pm ET with Michael Wacha (2-2, 5.16 ERA) and Nestor Cortes (0-0. 1.95 ERA) as the probable pitchers.