BRONX, N.Y. — It was an improvement from the Detroit debacle as the New York Yankees drew a split at home with the Tampa Bay Rays. This series could’ve gone a lot of different directions. After two big momentum wins and with your ace on the bump, one really would’ve liked to have seen the Yankees go for the jugular and win the series on Thursday afternoon.
The Yankees did stabilize but there’s still much work to be done with this squad.
It was not a pretty 3-1 loss for the Yankees. The Yankees made Rich Hill look like “Dick Mountain.” The Rays built themselves a picket fence against Jameson Taillon and that was all they needed.
New York merely mustered three hits against Hill and their best chance came in the fifth frame before DJ LeMahieu banged into an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Taillon was understandably upset with the lack of run support but probably the wrong messenger being a guy who goes five innings with a 5.10 ERA. A Manuel Margot RBI double in the third inning, Austin Meadows home run to right during the fourth frame and a Randy Arozarena RBI single to left in the fifth frame was the extent of the damage against Taillon.
The lone salvo by the Bronx Bombers was a Miguel Andújar solo home run to the porch off Michael Wacha in the seventh stanza.
The Yankees needed this one real bad and they got it with a 5-3 walk-off victory in the eleventh inning. Yes, there were some dubious moments but the pinstripes punched back and answered the bell against the Rays.
It did not look promising early. Domingo Germán surrendered a two-run tater to right to Meadows in the first frame.
Yet, the Yankees would scratch back in the third inning against Tyler Glasnow. A bases-loaded walk by Aaron Judge, followed by LeMahieu scampering home on a wild pitch, squared the contest at two.
Andújar proved why it’s vital to get these guys regular at-bats and into a groove, as would Clint Frazier later in this one. Andújar popped his second home run in as many days to right, off a first-pitch fastball from Glasnow in the fourth frame, providing the pinstripes with a 3-2 edge.
However, Germán would give it right back in the top of the fifth inning. Kevin Kiermaier clocked his first homer of the season with a solo swat to right because of course, he did.
From there though, the Yankee bullpen would not yield a hit or a run. They were also helped with some defense by Gary Sanchez in the sixth inning. Plus, Frazier in the eighth inning as well.
That set the stage for Frazier in the bottom of the eleventh with Sanchez on as the automatic runner. Frazier smoked an 0-1 slider from Andrew Kittredge to the left-field bleachers for the walk-off winner.
Much like the prior contest, the Yankees found ways to win. They jumped out to an early lead and never looked back. There were some ugly spots with base running and hitting into double plays but Frazier played the hero once again in a 4-3 victory. Fittingly, the Yankees plated four runs on Lou Gehrig Day.
On this inaugural #LouGehrigDay, we honor his legacy, all of those who have lost their lives to ALS and strive to raise awareness and funds as we work to find a cure to this disease. pic.twitter.com/13UCF6FuOC
For a change, the Yankees started out with an early lead. Gio Urshela, who also sparkled on defense, porched a first-pitch fastball off Shane McClanahan for a two-run tater to right in the first frame.
Jordan Montgomery was bend but don’t break, pitched to the scoreboard, and pitched around some dubious defense, especially a wild throw by Rougned Odor in the fifth frame. Yet, the Rays couldn’t find a breakout hit against Montgomery or the Yankee pen for the most part.
On the offensive side, Frazier’s two-run single back up the box against a 1-0 Ryan Thompson slider, proved to be the difference-maker in the fourth frame.
The 9-2 Yankees loss unraveled rather quickly. It’s remarkable how a Gerrit Cole game with a chance to win a series devolves into a de facto punt game. No Sanchez or Giancarlo Stanton. Ryan Yarbrough managed to toss a complete game. The offense was brutal, outside of a Brett Gardner bop for the early lead in the third inning and a garbage time Andújar homer in the seventh inning. Speaking of garbage, the umpiring was pretty unbearable too.
Let’s fast forward to the turning points if you will, shall we?
The Yankees trailed 2-1 in the fourth frame but started out with runners in scoring position after a Judge single and an Urshela double. Yet, the pinstripes couldn’t capitalize with zero outs. Part of the problem was Frazier being struck out on five balls.
While Cole labored, he was not helped at the plate or on the basepaths by the umpires either. With one on and one out in the fifth frame, Kiermaier reached on an infield single, avoiding the tag of LeMahieu at first base by running out of the baseline and touching the grass but still ruled safe by the umpires. This came after the Yankees had to challenge a play where Kiermaier was ruled safe initially in a foot race with Cole to the first base bag in the third inning. Unreal.