Two months ago the Rays were 15.5 games back of the first place Yankees. Tonight, they entered play just 5 games back. With five head to head matchups remaining, the Rays again looked to take one step closer to securing a third consecutive AL East title.
Corey Kluber, the steely veteran, took the mound to face his former team for the fourth time this season and turned in perhaps his best start of the year. Opposite Kluber, Clarke Schmidt got the start for the Yankees and went 4.1 innings, surrendering a pair earned runs.
Kluber tossed 7 scoreless frames, tallying 4 strikeouts in the process. Over his four starts against the Yankees this season, he has been everything the Rays could have hoped for.
And the path to those 0's was beautiful pic.twitter.com/52NKdbN5Mi— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 4, 2022
At the plate, the Rays bats were relatively quiet, scoring only a pair of runs in the third inning. Luckily, that was all they would need. They would out hit the Yankees 7-3.
Francisco Mejia and Jose Siri began the bottom of the third with back to back singles setting the table for a beautiful sacrifice bunt by Taylor Walls. With one out and a pair of runners in scoring position, Yandy Diaz would line a single off of Schmidt’s leg and into right field past a diving Torres to drive in both runs.
3 knocks in the 3rd turned into 2 early runs in game 2 pic.twitter.com/OGPiesIJqd— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 3, 2022
That would be it for the Rays on offense, but Walls wasn't done making an impact as he added heat another web gem to his collection.
Just in case anyone forgot how good Taylor Walls is on defense, here's a video for you pic.twitter.com/1WME9Suzm7— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 3, 2022
Following Kluber, Fairbanks threw a scoreless 8th inning, striking out one batter in the process.
In the 9th inning, the Rays again called upon Jason Adams who quickly surrendered a homer to Aaron Judge to cut the lead in half. The bomb was Judge’s 52nd of the year.
Nonetheless, Adam promptly returned to form and recorded three straight outs to secure the win and the save. After asking Rays pitchers to throw more fastballs yesterday, Josh Donaldson fittingly struck out on a 96 MPH fastball to end the game. He went 0-4 on the night.
With the win, the Rays move to just 4 games back of first place, and 17 games over .500. They will look to complete the sweep tomorrow and move to within 3 games of first.