ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — New York Yankees fans should be absolutely thrilled with the outcome of this series. Traveling to a house of horrors at Tropicana Field, against the Tampa Bay Rays, you take those two solid wins and keep it moving. Considering the COVID-19 situation with the coaching staff and shortstop Gleyber Torres, the Yankees were pretty much focused on what they needed to accomplish and that was taking the series.
This might’ve been the crispest victory of the season. Even with members of the coaching staff in COVID-19 protocol, the team looked as sharp as ever. Aaron Judge, Jordan Montgomery, Gary Sanchez. It was like all of the hopes and dreams of 2017 came to fruition for one night again. In the end, the Yankees earned a 3-1 win.
JUDGE IT GOODBYE!
In the first frame, Judge snapped out of his funk and drilled a first-pitch fastball from Luis Patiño to dead center for the 1-0 edge.
New York would double its advantage on a passed ball by Rays catcher Mike Zunino in the third inning, enabling DJ LeMahieu to scamper home.
“Baby you know I can give it to you,” and Jordan Montgomery gave it to the Rays. The Yankee southpaw was sharp and worked his change to aplomb. Five of his nine Ks came by virtue of the changeup. Tossing six frames of two-hit ball and one walk, Montgomery’s lone blemish was a solo homer to center by Zunino off a full-count sinker during the third inning.
Austin Meadows reached on a Gleyber Torres fielding error. Yet, on a pitch that got past Sanchez and bounced back to the Yankee catcher, El Gary zipped a throw to second base and Tyler Wade slapped down the tag to record the out. After Kevan Smith lined out to shortstop on an 0-2 splitter, Chapman whiffed Brandon Lowe on a fastball for the save.
Not a lot happened in this contest but wow was Gerrit Cole chugging through the Rays lineup or what? In the end, New York was able to manufacture its first 1-0 victory since Aug. 11, 2019, at Toronto.
Who could blame Cole if he thought he was mining for coal in the dim, dark depths of Tropicana Field? Yet, the Yankee ace was able to dig up a dirty dozen and absolutely struck gold with this gem.
Unlike some games last season where he’d pile up the strikeouts and pitch count in the early going, Cole sports a different look this season and got even stronger throughout this contest. On his final ledger, Cole registered 12 Ks, tossed eight scoreless frames, yielded four hits, and walked zero. Plus, Cole recorded career strikeout No. 1,500 in this one as well. He would eventually yield to Chapman but if manager Aaron Boone had sent him out there for the ninth, no one would’ve blamed him. Eight of his strikeout came via the fastball and he struck out the side in the eighth to cap off his evening.
The Yankee bats finally woke up in the seventh inning. As part of a three-hit evening, Judge set the table by wrapping a single to left off Ryan Thompson. Gio Urshela followed with a booming double to center.
Then, in a dubious move by Rays skipper Kevin Cash, lefty reliever Jeffrey Springs was brought on and turned Aaron Hicks to his stronger side on the right. Hicks proceeded to lift a sacrifice fly to center, as Judge booked it home for the deciding run.
It wasn’t so much a punt game but there was nothing doing for the Yankees in their 9-1 defeat to the Rays. Jameson Taillon (nine) and Michael King (six) racked up the strikeouts but “good stuff” and zero runs don’t amount to much.
A Yandy Diaz two-run single was all the Rays needed in the first frame. The Rays piled on Taillon with a two-run homer to right-center in the third inning. King was victimized for the first time all season when Randy Arozarena all but put the game out of reach with a three-run bomb to left in the sixth inning.
Alas, when you can’t score runs and strike out nine times against 41-year-old Rich Hill, things are not going to end up well for you.
At 20-17, the Yankees travel to Baltimore to take on the Baltimore Orioles for a three-game series starting Friday evening.
Pitching probables, Corey Kluber vs. Dean Kremer, Domingo German vs. Jorge Lopez, Jordan Montgomery vs. John Means.