With Kevin Kiermaier and Manuel Margot joining a long list of Rays players on the injured list, Kevin Cash was forced to change up the lineup more than he usually does. For Tuesday night’s game against Nestor Cortés Jr. and the New York Yankees, Cash chose Isaac Paredes to hit in the coveted second spot as the team tried to avoid losing yet another series to the Bronx Bombers.
While the Rays considered bringing up Josh Fleming to make a traditional start, they instead went with a bullpen day. Jalen Beeks made his third start of the season.
While neither featured in tonight’s contest, Luke Raley and Jonathan Aranda were in the dugout after being called up to replace Kiermaier and Margot. Aranda will make his big league debut when he first appears in a game for the Rays.
Beeks wasn’t his sharpest, allowing two runs on two hits and two walks against a talented Yankees lineup (even without MVP candidate Aaron Judge). He struggled with command of his changeup but was able to get out of a jam in the first. He exited the game with two outs and two men on in the second, making way for Shawn Armstrong. Both runners scored on a DJ LeMahieu single.
Luckily, the Rays' bats refused to be shut down by “Nasty” Nestor again, especially the top half which was stacked with four right-handed hitters. Isaac Paredes hit his sixth home run of the season in the first inning, and Harold Ramirez followed it up with the softest home run of the Statcast era.
Can we interest you in back-to-back jacks? pic.twitter.com/Q9I0aPHWgi— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 21, 2022
Paredes came up again in the third against Cortés, and with less than 100 plate appearances on the season, tied the team lead in home runs. This one went 402 feet and sailed over the left field wall and gave the Rays a 3-2 lead.
While we're at it, can we interest you in ANOTHER Isaac Paredes homerun? pic.twitter.com/vCch3OVxFJ— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 22, 2022
Cortés worked into the fifth inning and got one out before Yandy Díaz reached on a single. With Paredes in the on-deck circle Aaron Boone was smart enough to not let his starter face him a third time and instead brought in Clarke Schmidt. Isaac Paredes, however, did not care who he was facing on Tuesday, and sent a third home run into the left field bleachers, tying a franchise record and putting him in sole possession of the team lead in home runs (8).
We are pleased to inform you that Isaac has homered yet again— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 22, 2022
His 3rd HR of the night, tying a franchise record pic.twitter.com/5WcfKFcAFa
The Rays used a total of seven pitchers, and Armstrong, Wisler, Thompson, Brooks Raley, and Adam combined to take the Rays into the ninth inning with a lead. To close out the game with a 5-2 lead, Kevin Cash turned to left-handed invisiball thrower Colin Poche.
Poche walked Gleyber Torres to lead off the ninth, and then retired Aaron Hicks and Kyle Higashioka for outs one and two. In the spirit of keeping things interesting, Poche allowed a two-out, two-run home run to Marwin Gonzalez to make it a one-run game. The good news was the next spot up in the Yankees’ order was the number nine spot. The bad news was that number nine hitter was slugger Joey Gallo. The even worse news was that Aaron Judge (.301/.380/.647, 25 HR) was brought off the bench to replace Gallo.
At this point, I had convinced myself I would be writing an entirely different recap. Fortunately, Poche got Judge to swing at a first-pitch fastball which he lined directly into the glove of left fielder Randy Arozarena for out number three. Exhale.
While the first four hitters in Tuesday’s lineup provided enough offense to win the game, the bottom five went a combined 1-17 in the contest. Each of the Paredes homers were needed to win, as well as the 323-foot, 85.4 mph blast from Harold Ramirez.
The series is now tied at one a piece with one game left to go on Wednesday night. Shane Baz will make his third start of the season and go up against Yankees’ lefty Jordan Montgomery (72.2 IP, 2.72 ERA).