The legend of Luke Voit grew, Miguel Andujar added to his Rookie of the Year credentials, and Giancarlo Stanton clubbed two home runs to help New York tie a major-league record. How about that for an afternoon of work? The Yankees crushed the Rays 12-1 at Tropicana Field, reducing their magic number to one for clinching home-field advantage for the Wild Card Game.
With free agency looming, CC Sabathia might have just made his final regular-season start in pinstripes today. If that turns out to be the case, then CC went out in style. The veteran was nearly perfect, with the first baserunner not reaching until a two-out single in the fourth inning. Sabathia hurled five scoreless frames to earn the win and finish the 2018 campaign 9-7.
The Yankees took a 4-0 lead immediately in the first inning. Brett Gardner doubled, and Voit and Stanton walked to load the bases. With Neil Walker batting, Rays opener Jaime Schultz uncorked a wild pitch to plate Gardner. Andujar followed with a three-run dinger. The blast was the rookie’s 27th home run, while the three RBI gave him 90 on the year.
New York increased its lead to 7-0 in the fourth. Gleyber Torres singled, moved to second on a passed ball, and scored on an Austin Romine single. Adeiny Hechavarria singled, Gardner grounded into a force out to move Romine to third, and Aaron Judge knocked him in with a sacrifice fly. Voit then doubled to score Gardner.
The Bombers added four more runs in the sixth. Hechavarria singled, Gardner tripled him home and subsequently scored on another Judge sacrifice fly. Voit and Stanton then belted back-to-back home runs to give the Yankees a 12-0 lead. Voit finished 3-for-3 with a walk, two runs scored, and two RBI on the day.
Stanton clubbed his second homer of the game in the ninth. It was the 24th time a Yankees player produced a multi-homer game this season. That ties a major-league record shared by the 1961 Yankees and ‘66 Braves. The Bombers now have 260 home runs in 2018, just four short of Seattle’s single-season record.
Sabathia was ejected when he beaned a hitter to start the bottom of the sixth. The team leader was visibly upset when Tampa’s pitcher threw a ball over Romine’s head in the top half. Sabathia also plunked a Rays batter in the fifth. The ejection prevented CC from earning a $500,000 innings incentive. He chose to stand up for his teammates instead, and fell two frames short of the bonus. Manager Aaron Boone was also ejected, and was still upset after the game about the apparent purpose pitch to Romine.
With the win, the Yankees improve their record to 98-61. They can ensure that the AL Wild Card Game is held at Yankee Stadium on October 3rd by winning just one of their three remaining games at Fenway Park this weekend. With a sweep of the Red Sox, the Bombers can actually finish with a .500 or better record against every opponent this season, something the club hasn’t done since 1963.