It took the Yankees a little while to get going in their Tuesday afternoon game against the Rays, but they scratched themselves right back in the game with a rather unorthodox inning of scoring. From there, it was pretty smooth sailing on their way to their third straight win.
Jordan Montgomery, making his big league debut, struck out the first two batters he faced before he made a mistake to Rickie Weeks Jr. in the first inning after walking Evan Longoria. Weeks made Montgomery pay for it in the form of a two-run homer.
Giving up a home run like that in the first inning could have easily rattled Montgomery a bit, but that ended up not being the case at all. He came back strong and kept the Rays off the scoreboard until the fifth inning when Weeks reached on an error by Starlin Castro that allowed Steven Souza Jr. to score. At that point it was 3-0 Rays. Montgomery finished his debut after 4.2 innings having given up three runs (two earned) on five hits with seven strikeouts.
What came next was very bizarre. Chase Headley singled to lead off the inning and Aaron Judge worked a walk. Kyle Higashioka grounded into a fielder’s choice that would have gotten Judge out at second if it weren’t for an error by Gordon Beckham. With the bases loaded and no one out, Pete Kozma popped out and Jacoby Ellsbury fouled out to put the rally in serious jeopardy.
Aaron Hicks worked a bases loaded walk to score Headley before Judge came home on a wild pitch by Jumbo Diaz. Matt Holliday walked to try and keep the rally going, but Chris Carter popped it up to end the inning. Nothing about that was conventional, as far as rallies go, but we’ll take it all the same.
Down one run in the sixth, Judge continued his hot hitting with an RBI single that brought Castro in to score. Brett Gardner pinch hit for Pete Kozma, and reached base safely on a throwing error by the pitcher. Unfortunately, Weeks tried to corral the bad throw and collided with Gardner around the base. Both guys were shaken up by the play, and both were removed from the game.
The Yankees announced that Gardner was dealing with a bruised jaw and a strained neck late in the game. Hopefully that proves not to be as bad of a situation as it looked when the collision happened. The Yankees do have outfield depth if necessary, but it seems like a bullet was dodged in terms of how serious the injury could have been.
Jacoby Ellsbury singled in a run to make it 5-3 Yankees in the inning, and Ronald Torreyes scored on a Hicks groundout to extend the lead. In the seventh inning with Chris Carter on base, Judge launched his third home run in three games into the netting above Monument Park.
Joe Girardi tried to finish out the game with Tommy Layne and Jonathan Holder, but he brought in Aroldis Chapman as soon as it became a save situation with runners on in the ninth. Chapman finished the job and the Yankees won their third straight game. It has been a pretty good turnaround after a forgettable first week of the season. They’ll have a chance to keep it going in the series finale against the Rays tomorrow, as well as when they welcome the Cardinals to Yankees Stadium for the team’s first taste of interleague play this weekend.