Wow, what a game. Before I even say what happened in this game, take a look at the win probability graph:
I... don't know what to say. Well, let's start at the beginning. Masahiro Tanaka took the mound against the Rays' best starter in Chris Archer, and until late in the game, this looked exactly how I thought it would. Tanaka got knocked around early--he allowed two runs in the first inning on an Evan Longoria RBI double and a James Loney sacrifice fly, but that was largely the extent of the Rays' damage, at least in the first half of the game.
Tanaka was not bad at all, but his location was still an issue as splitters above the knees hurt him a bit. He allowed one more run in the fifth on a sacrifice fly, and he exited the game after six innings with a three-run deficit. Chris Archer, on the other hand, was utterly fantastic. The best rally the Yankees had was having two walks in a row in the sixth, and that was about it. But after Archer exited, the game took on a completely different tone.
Chris Capuano and Nick Rumbelow threw a scoreless inning apiece to get them to the bottom of the eighth, and then Mark Teixeira did an amazing thing; with one out and runners on first and second, Teixeira launched a three-run home run into the right field seats. It was an unbelievably exciting home run, and props to Alex Rodriguez for squirting a single to the right side on a pitch that most hitters cannot hit in the previous at-bat.
Dellin Betances threw a scoreless ninth, and then the Yankees were unable to walk off in the ninth, so the team went to extra innings. I have said this many times before, but the Yankees have been dreadful in extra innings. They have not had a walk-off win this year, and they were outscored by a score of 10-5 in extra innings coming into tonight. But, those are small samples. It was unlikely that they would continue to be this bad, and they did turn it around. Well, after nearly falling apart.
It was a pretty quiet game in extra innings, until the top of the 11th inning. Evan Longoria hit a single into the left field corner, and it looked like he got to second easily. But Brett Weber in the baseball operations department caught that Longoria was actually out, and the Yankees challenged. Longoria was called out, and they erased the double. It was a huge play, and it possibly saved the game.
In the 12th inning, the Rays struck what many thought would be the fatal blow. Chasen Shreve came in to the relieve Adam Warren, and even though he has been lights-out as of late, he cracked tonight. He walked Asdrubal Cabrera, allowed an RBI single to Kevin Kiermaier, and then another RBI single to Rene Rivera in the following at-bat. With two strokes, the Yankees were down by a score of 5-3.
I really thought the game was over at that point. But, the Yankees had other ideas. Brett Gardner led off the inning with a walk, Chase Headley struck out, and then Alex Rodriguez singled to put runners on first and third. Mark Teixeira continued his rampage with an RBI single, and then Brian McCann came to the plate with a one-run deficit. On a 1-0 count, McCann drilled a 93 MPH four-seam fastball over the fences, and the game was instantly over. It was McCann's second career walk-off as a Yankee and fourth in his career, and more importantly, it was the first Yankees walk-off this season.
This victory was huge. Very huge. I've said before that division victories are incredibly important, and even more so when one is facing a team's opposing ace. There was a point where the team looked absolutely hopeless (there were a few points I felt this way), and this is a great way to start the home stand. The Yankees will take on the Rays for game two of three tomorrow afternoon for an Independence Day matinee--at 1 PM EST--and Michael Pineda will take on Nathan Karns.