Is this somehow actually the first time this season the Rays have faced off against the Yankees? I actually needed to double-check because it feels like we see the Yankees so much every season that it’s impossible it would take almost two months for them to roll into town, and yet, it’s true.
It’s also true that the Yankees are currently the Rays' most formidable opponents this year in terms of reclaiming a division title. Going into tonight’s game the Yanks were 4.5 games ahead.
The first five innings of tonight’s game were a prime example of why, as both teams’ starting pitchers worked nearly hitless in a classic pitching duel. Ryan Yarbrough was looking locked in for the Rays, and Nestor Cortes and his impressive 80s mustache was on the mound for the Yankees.
In the top of the first Yarbs gave up a walk to Rizzo with one out in the inning and he was able to advance to second on a wild pitch, but no runs scored. Things looked similar in the bottom half as Diaz got a leadoff walk. Ramirez singled to send him to second, then a fly out from Arozarena got Diaz to third. Sadly Yandy would be 90 feet short, as no runs scored.
I could go inning-by-inning from here, but I won’t waste your time. Innings two through five were three-up-three-down for both teams. See, I told you it was a classic pitchers’ duel.
Unfortunately, Yarbrough was the first duelist to flinch, and the sixth saw things go poorly for the Rays. Carpenter, also sporting a very special mustache, let himself take a hit-by-pitch to take first, then Gonzalez singled. A long Judge single to center scored the runner and put the Yankees on the board first. At least this time around they’re probably not complaining about a batter getting hit by a Rays pitcher. The run was the end of the night for Yarbrough whose final line was 5.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K on 80 pitches (this factors in what happens in a minute). Thompson came out in relief, and Judge saw a steal opportunity and took it successfully.
Things went bad to worse with two outs. Andujar reached on an infield single that scored Gonzalez, and then Judge was able to score as Walls’ throw to first overshot Ramirez’s glove while poor Ramirez was in a full split. The two additional runs were charged to Yarbrough, which was kind of a bummer considering how good his game had been. The Rays did get a man on in the bottom of the sixth with Brujan reaching on a throwing error, but they couldn’t take advantage of their good luck.
Garza Jr. was the next reliever in for the seventh, and gave up a leadoff walk to Kiner-Falefa. Trevino singled, then a Carpenter groundout put two runners in scoring position. Kiner-Falefa scored on a wild pitch from Garza, and I’m sorry to say it but Garza just isn’t very good. Judge walked, but thankfully the damage was as done as it was getting, the Yankees left the top of the inning at 4-0. Cortes continued to have the Rays’ number in the bottom of the inning, but with two outs, Margot hit a looooooong double out of Judge’s reach. Too bad he’d stay on second.
In the eighth Garza managed to put the Yankees down 1-2-3, but in the bottom of the inning the Rays managed only a single baserunner on a Brujan single.
The ninth got especially ugly for Garza, with a Kiner-Falefa single to lead things of, then a Trevino groundout sent him to second. That was it for Garza, who gave way to Raley. Carpenter walked, having a great first game with the Yankees. Then Gonzalez walked. Judge hit a sac fly to score Kiner-Falefa, then Rizzo doubled to score Carpenter and Gonzalez, partially thanks to a throwing error from Brujan, putting the Yankees up 7-0.
Down to their last three outs the Rays finally put up a fight. Franco singled to start off the bottom of the inning, which was the end of the night for Cortes, who was truly remarkable for the Yankees. They might have regretted pulling him, too, because the wheels seemed to come off when Wandy Peralta came on to relieve him. Ramirez singled, then both baserunners advanced a base on a balk from Peralta. Margot reached on a single, scoring Franco as the first run of the game for the Rays. Paredes hit into a fielder’s choice that wasn’t quite able to turn into a double play, and another run scored with Ramirez coming home. The inning ended on the next batter, but at least it wasn’t a shutout.
Final: Yankees 7, Rays 2