Citi Field doesn’t have a catwalk but it does include a Shea Bridge and a Shake Shack. Not to be tongue and cheek about a bad situation but impromptu site shift almost felt normal with 15-20,000 New York Yankees fans at a Tampa Bay Rays home series. The fans in Flushing were treated to meaningful September baseball and the Yankees captured their fourth straight series victory.
As they often do against the New York Mets, the New York Yankees reasserted themselves as the kings of Queens in a 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
FIVE FOURTH FIGHTING
The Bronx Bombers offensive punch knocked out Rays starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi with a five spot in the fourth inning.
Aaron Judge started the party coaxing a free pass. Ensuing batter Gary Sanchez set up runners at the corners with a single to center. Didi Gregorius squared the contest at one, with a sacrifice fly to right.
An error by Trevor Plouffe on a Matt Holliday ball hit to third enabled Sanchez to score.
Jacoby Ellsbury followed by reaching on a major-league record 30th catcher’s interference call, breaking Pete Rose’s mark.
The big blow came off the bat of Todd Frazier, who drilled a three-run bomb off the LED scoreboard in left, giving the Yankees a 5-1 advantage.
Unlike his previous outing at Baltimore, skipper Joe Girardi employed a quick hook with CC Sabathia. Sabathia for his part was effective enough, yielding one run through 4.2 frames of six strikeout ball.
From there the bullpen was filthy. David Robertson whiffed four in 2.2 innings. Dellin Betances fanned two in the eighth. Aroldis Chapman worked a flawless ninth.
Playing in a National League ballpark the Yankees didn’t bat a pitcher but the designated hitter could only help them so much in a 2-1 defeat at the hands of the Rays. With both Gregorius and Ellsbury out of the lineup most of the night, the lineup cooled off a bit.
QUICK ON THE DRAW
In the first inning, the Yanks were able to jump on Rays starter Blake Snell. Judge coaxed a one-out walk and was advanced to second on a Sanchez ground out. The ensuing batter and designated hitter Holliday ripped a RBI-double to left.
One couldn’t have asked for much more from Sonny Gray. Gray was throwing nasty stuff all evening and was all pumped up in what was a tight contest. Tossing eight frames with nine whiffs, his only blemishes were a solo homer in the first by Kevin Kiermaier to right and a solo blast to left by Adeiny Hechavarria in the eighth.
The playoffs have already begun as manager Joe Girardi is treating the games with a heightened sense of urgency. The skipper’s moves paid off in a 3-2 victory Wednesday afternoon.
Once again the New York offense jumped out with a fast start, placing a mini crooked number on Rays starter Chris Archer in the second inning.
Starlin Castro broke out of his skid with a single to center. Ellsbury continued his hot hitting with a single to right, setting up runners at the corners. The ensuing batter Todd Frazier came through with a RBI-single to left.
Following a Clint Frazier strikeout and a walk to Austin Romine, Brett Gardner sliced a clutch two-run single to left, increasing the Yankees advantage to 3-0.
As mentioned above, Girardi wasn’t messing around with his staff. Jaime Garcia only went 4.2 innings, yielding a solo homer to Kiermaier, who went yard for the second time in as many days in the third inning.
After another clutch, flawless 1.1 frames of three strikeout ball by Chad Green, Girardi employed more movement.
Tommy Kahnle was aided by a 3-6 double play turned by Headley and Gregorius in the seventh inning.
Not even Betances was immune from Girardi’s strategy, lifted after recording two outs around an Evan Longoria single to center in the eighth inning.
With Chapman on, Steven Souza Jr. walked and Hechavarria once again came through with a clutch RBI hit to center, closing the game to 3-2. Yet, Chapman rebounded, fanning pinch hitter Wilson Ramos to extinguish the threat.
Following a lead off walk in the ninth inning, Chapman stopped messing around, striking out the side for his first four-out save of the campaign and No. 18 on the year.
At 79-66, the Yankees head to back home to Yankee Stadium for a four-game series against the Baltimore Orioles starting Thursday night.
Pitching probables include Wade Miley vs. Masahiro Tanaka, Jeremy Hellickson vs. Luis Severino, Ubaldo Jimenez vs. CC Sabathia, Dylan Bundy vs. Sonny Gray.