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Yankees come back late, but Rays walk off in the bottom of the ninth

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Aaron Hicks’ game-tying home run was all for naught.

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Yankees took the first two game of this four-game set, and would clinch the series with a win in game three. CC Sabathia went up against Blake Snell, and while it started off as a pitchers’ duel, it wasn’t pitching that ultimately won the game in what turned out to be another tightly contested match between these two rivals.

Brett Gardner started the scoring off early. In the second inning, Gardy planted a solo shot into the right field seats for his 14th of the season. He is just the third lefty to homer off Blake Snell in 2019. Who would’ve guessed before the season started that Gardner would lead all Yankee outfielders in home runs at the All-Star break?

The Rays would answer quickly in the bottom half of the inning. With runners at the corners and two men out, Travis d’Arnaud laced a single into center, scoring Michael Brosseau to tie the ballgame at one.

The Yankees had trouble in the middle-innings pushing home runners in scoring position. Lead-off doubles in the third and fourth amounted to nothing, and New York left the bases loaded in the fifth inning. Snell had run into some trouble, but he was able to work out of it. This was a major bounce-back game for the reigning Cy Young winner, after his last start against the Yankees ended after six runs allowed in the first frame. He tossed five innings, struck out five and made just that one mistake to Gardner.

Sabathia, on the other hand, cruised his way through his first couple of innings. A nine-pitch third and fourth lead to a four-pitch fifth frame. Then, entering the sixth with 62 pitches, Sabathia got himself into a jam. Tommy Pham and Yandy Diaz both got on base to start the inning. Pham would make his way to third on an Avisail Garcia sac-fly. In a crucial moment, the Yankee veteran got the rookie Brosseau to ground into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.

The Yankees would once again put runners in scoring position in the seventh, and just the right guy stepped up to the plate, DJ LeMahieu. However, he chopped one to short, which resulted in a double play, but moved Gio Urshela to third. Aaron Judge walked, and brought the other Aaron to the plate. Hicks lined one into right, scoring Urshela and giving the Yankees a 2-1 lead. That was the first hit all game with runners in scoring position for New York. They would keep the pressure on the Rays in the inning with two outs, but only for a little. Gary Sanchez worked a walk to load the bases, but Edwin Encarnacion flew out to Guillermo Heredia in left to end the threat.

Sabathia worked his way back out for the bottom of the seventh, and rightfully so with his pitch count at 75. He had only given up four hits along with just one run coming into the inning. CC continued his brilliance and recorded two quick outs to start the inning. Despite all that, d’Arnaud dunked a two-out single, and was followed by a go-ahead bomb by Nate Lowe. Sabathia left a slider hanging, and Lowe blasted it into the right field seats. Sabathia went seven innings, giving up six hits, three runs and five strikeouts. Tampa Bay took a 3-2 lead into the eighth.

With the top of the order due up, Oliver Drake entered the game to try to shut down the Yanks in the ninth. LeMahieu grounded out and Judge flew out to center. Down to their final out, switch-hitter Aaron Hicks came up, but Rays manager, Kevin Cash, pulled Drake in favor of left-hander Colin Poche. This forced Hicks to bat from the right side. On a 2-2 count, Poche tried to challenge Hicks with an inside fastball, but instead, Hicks drove it over the left field wall for a game-tying solo homer. Four of his last eight homers this year have tied or given the Yankees the lead.

Chad Green entered the ninth and recorded the first two outs without any problems. The game appeared headed for extra innings for the third straight day, but Travis d’Arnaud had other plans. He drove the first pitch he saw into the right center field seats for a walkoff home run, and the Rays won 4-3. That was the first homer given up by Green since May 19.

This was a tough loss for the Yankees. Fingers can be pointed at the bats or the pitching, but the fingers should really be pointing towards next game. Tampa Bay still trails the Yanks by 7.5 games, and New York is 16-3 in their last 19 games. The final game of this four-game set is tomorrow at 1:10. It will be the Yankees’ last game before the All-Star Break.