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Yankees 3, Rays 1: Pitchers’ duel ends in extra-inning win

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Oh yeah, a baseball game was played today. It wasn’t all about Joey Gallo.

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

Now I know what you’re thinking: Did he write a Joey Gallo trade post, or only a game recap? Well to tell you the truth, in all this excitement I kinda lost track myself. But seeing as this club is in a playoff push and needs to blow teams clean out of the way, you’ve gotta ask yourself one question: Did the Yankees really beat the Rays 3-1 in extra innings? Well, did they, punk?

(They did.)

I recapped last night, and tonight’s game hits a lot of the same beats. Nestor Cortes Jr. was, once again, outstanding and amusing. Throwing five innings of one-run ball, he allowed just three hits and no walks while striking out five. He leaned quite heavily on the four-seam fastball, throwing it 62 percent of the time, managing nine called strikes, which really highlights his command of the pitch:

These aren’t great locations — some of the stuff on the black is nice, but there are a few fastballs that he leaves over the plate. But then you start to mix in some of the other pitches he gets called strikes on ...

... and you can see that Cortes is unafraid to throw different pitches in the same location, rather than a conventional “fastball up, breaking ball down” approach.

Add that to the deception in Cortes’ delivery, and it must be pretty tough to pull the trigger as a hitter. You can’t focus on one location in case you see multiple pitches there, and you can’t focus on one pitch because the only one Cortes throws enough to isolate happens to move all over the zone.

As we’ve said dozens of times this year, the Yankees didn’t put much together offensively until the fifth inning, when an error and double put two Yankees on with nobody out. Aaron Judge returned to the game after missing the start due to appointments related to COVID testing protocol, pinch-hitting for Estevan Florial and striking out. The Yankees did tie the game on DJ LeMahieu’s sacrifice fly, but had to settle for just the one.

Outside of that, there really wasn’t much to talk about. Gleyber Torres had two batted balls harder than 95 mph, one a lineout at 97.1 and the other a booming double to right-center at 107.5. Only the double was classified as a barrel by Statcast, but having that kind of contact in the air is going to be the key to Torres becoming a threat in the lineup again, so you’ll take it every single time.

Zack Britton walked the first batter he faced, just like last night, and just like last night, ended up erasing the runner with a double play. Chad Green also pitched a clean inning, and off to Manfredball we went!

Gio Urshela served as the ghost runner, and was quickly joined on base when Greg Allen was hit on the knee. Judge, batting in the nine-hole, added one of the least-emphatic go-ahead runs you’ll ever see:

A wild pitch brought Allen in, and we went to the bottom half with the Yankees up 3-1.

Aroldis Chapman, like last night, was tasked with recording the save. He dominated Brandon Lowe, striking him out before walking Randy Arozarena. That brought up pinch-hitter Nelson Cruz as the winning run, but as we all know, Aroldis Chapman owns Nelson Cruz, striking him out before getting what should have been an easy pop fly:

It’s never easy with this team, but just like last night, the win counts the same as any other.

The Yankee offense has done jusssssst enough to win the last two nights, but of course will hopefully get a huge boost tomorrow, as Joey Gallo may play his first game for the club. The Yankees traded for Joey Gallo, in case you haven’t heard.

Regardless of Gallo’s status, the Yankees will have a great chance for the sweep as Gerrit Cole will take the ball against Luis Patiño, with first pitch coming at 1:10pm Eastern.

Box Score