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Rays 5, Yankees 2: Brilliant Eflin Performance

Zach Eflin’s stellar performance on the mound shut down the Yankees, leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a 5-2 victory

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Adam Hunger/Getty Images

New month, who dis?

After a completely disappointing July going 8-16, the Tampa Bay Rays look to be back to their dominant ways with a 5-2 win over the New York Yankees. The win gives the Rays a three-game winning streak and back-to-back series wins.

The Rays made their presence felt offensively in the top of the second inning. With two men on base via walks, Jose Siri struck out for the second out of the inning. In July, this easily would have felt like the third out was coming, but this is August, and Manny Margot delivered a ground-rule double that one-hopped the fence, sending Isaac Paredes home to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.

In the top of the third, Yandy Diaz drove a ball over the short porch in right field for his 15th homer of the season, doubling the lead for a moment. The Yankee Stadium crowd was still coming to terms with Diaz’s heroics when Randy Arozarena stepped up to the plate. Arozarena, with a barbershop-fresh confidence boost, ended his 0-20 streak as he crushed a two-run homer, extending the Rays lead to 4-0.

Yankees starter Carlos Rodon’s performance felt like it was brought to you by the number four as he finished with 4.0 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, and 4 BB. Credit Rays hitters for extending at-bats and driving Rodon’s pitch count to 97 pitches after four innings forcing the Yankees to go to the bullpen with a four-run deficit. The four hits he gave up came from three fastballs at the top of the zone and an inside slider that Margot connected on for the ground-rule double in the second inning.

The Rays' momentum continued in the fifth with a Brandon Lowe RBI single, stretching the lead to five runs. The combination of the Rays' offense and the Yankees’ inability to score amplified the feeling that this game’s outcome would be a win for the Rays.

Tonight, the spotlight was firmly fixed on Rays’ starter Zach Eflin. For six innings, he made the mound his fortress, only giving up three hits and striking out five. With some support from the defense behind him, he retired 12 Yankees in a row from the third out of the second inning until his streak was ended by Jake Bauers’ double in the bottom of the 6th inning. He took to the mound with a single-minded intent to silence the Yankee offense. With the win, he became the first pitcher in the American League to reach 12 wins this season.

The Yankees weren’t about to bow out quietly. After a near-silent offensive performance through eight innings, the bottom of the ninth saw a sudden offensive resurgence with Colin Poche on the mound for the Rays. Harrison Bader started the rally that wasn’t with a pinch-hit double. In the next at-bat, Aaron Judge absolutely crushed a ball to left field that hung in the air long enough for Arozarena to catch for the second out. He was followed by an RBI double from Gleyber Torres and a single from Anthony Rizzo. A throwing error by third baseman Isaac Paredes on a DJ LeMahieu gave the Yankees their second run of the game. Poche allowed a career-high 6 ER on 7/16/19 at Yankee Stadium, but tonight the damage was limited to the 2 ER as he was pulled from the game.

With the tying run at the plate in a suddenly tense game, the Rays brought in Pete Fairbanks to end the Yankee comeback attempt. Fairbanks, with his eyes locked in, struck out Giancarlo Stanton to end the game. As Stanton swung and missed, Fairbanks earned the save and sealed the series win.

A great win to start a new month and keep the momentum going. The Rays will go for the series sweep tomorrow at 7:05 pm ET with a marquee pitching matchup as Shane McClanahan takes the mound for the Rays and Gerrit Cole for the Yankees.