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Yankees 4, Rays 3: Jordan Montgomery and Ryan LaMarre deliver

A great start from Gumby was the foundation for today’s series-opening win.

MLB: New York Yankees at Tampa Bay Rays Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

This was a stressful game, and I’m sure more than most of us have fingernails that are just a little bit shorter than they were four hours ago. The Yankees scored a little, but not as much as you’d want, and while starter Jordan Montgomery was great, the bullpen was not. We deserve a few easy wins as fans, but the team hasn’t been very good at delivering them. Still, they won tonight, topping the Rays by a 4-3 margin.

It’s getting to the point where I’m not sure it’s worth recording that the Yankees loaded the bases with less than two outs. They did just that in the first inning, only to see Gleyber Torres hit into the 95th double play of the season for the club. They put two men on base in the fourth inning before Ryan LaMarre grounded out weakly to end the threat.

Over and over again, that’s been the Yankees’ problem this year — they can put men on base, but can’t bring them in. They actually strike out less often once men get on base; it’s just that too many of their hits are on the ground, hit softly enough to be fielded. It’s been the bane of this team, and even in the fifth inning when they did score, Greg Allen led off with a double, DJ LeMahieu singled him home, and Aaron Judge (back from the COVID-IL) bounced into a double play. In the eighth, Gio Urshela DP’d after Rougned Odor walked! It all adds up to an MLB-worst 97 double plays.

Fortunately, come the sixth inning, the Yankees were able to get a big hit, with Urshela doubling in two runs and making the score 3-0. They did manage the runs with a little bit of extra luck, as Odor ran right through a bright red stop sign:

In a bit of good luck, the throw home was a little offline, and the Yankees extended their lead.

Meanwhile, Montgomery was outstanding on the mound. The southpaw pushed his shutout streak to 14.2 scoreless innings with five clean frames, striking out a batter per inning. He did throw 102 pitches over those five innings, and showed some of the trademark ineffectiveness with two strikes:

Still, it’s hard to argue with the results that Montgomery has put up lately, and indeed, after Tuesday’s outing, he lowered his July ERA to 2.92. Monty’s never going to be the flashiest, or the best, arm in a rotation, but he’s done his job in starts over and over again. Tonight, the Yankees were good enough to actually give him run support, which hasn’t always happened this year.

After Montgomery’s great effort, Chad Green hung a curveball to Brendan Lowe and it was a 3-2 ballgame:

Lest you think that Green only has a fastball, he does, nominally, throw the curve. Green did get out of the inning, albeit leaving with just a one-run lead. Jonathan Loaisiga had the seventh, and after melting down against the Red Sox, he was back in good form:

Loaisiga struck out two around a weak ground ball, and lending hope to the idea that Sunday’s outing was just a bad day.

Now earlier in the day, rookie Estevan Florial was sent to Triple-A Scranton while Ryan LaMarre remained with the big league club in a move that likely chagrined most Yankee fans. He had been pretty useless for the first eight innings on Tuesday, striking out and grounding out with men on base. But in that eighth inning, LaMarre added some much-needed insurance with two outs:

It is, as they say, Taco Tuesday.

That insurance was immediately necessary, as Zack Britton had himself a dreadful bottom of the eighth, allowing three baserunners, giving up a run to make it 4-3, and overall showing a continued lack of any kind of command. Were it not for LaMarre, we might very well be pinning a loss on Britton. But Aroldis Chapman pitched a manageable ninth inning, allowing a walk to Wander Franco and setting up a dramatic, game-ending strikeout of Nelson Cruz.

So really, we didn’t see anything tonight we haven’t seen before. The starter was good, the offense was fine but could have done more — leaving two more men on base in the ninth inning! — and more than one of the high leverage arms in the ‘pen allowed men on, and men in to score. Still, every win means a lot at this point in the season, and maybe the Yankees can find some positives to build off of ahead of tomorrow’s rematch. That game comes to you at 7:10pm ET, with Nestor Cortes Jr. getting the start against Michael Wacha.

Box Score