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Yankees 2, Rays 0: Another day, another elite outing, and another win

The sensational pitching run just keeps on rolling as Jameson Taillon spun an eight-inning gem.

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

Strong pitching has been pivotal to the Yankees' incredible start to the season, and the starting rotation in particular has been outstanding. The first two showdowns of this four-game series at Tropicana Field have put that fact on display for all to see. It was Nestor Cortes’ show last night, and tonight, it was Jameson Taillon’s turn to steal the spotlight. The Rays' offense has been no match for the Yankees' top arms, and they were shut down again in a 2-0 New York victory.

The tone of the game was set during the first at-bat. Aaron Judge received a 0-1 changeup clearly off the plate that was called a strike. Home-plate umpire Bruce Dreckman is known for being pitcher-friendly and that was shown from the get-go. Both Taillon and Rays starter Jeffrey Springers cruised through the first two innings, with six up and six down on both sides.

The first notable action of the night came in the top of the third. A couple of struggling hitters, Joey Gallo and Kyle Higashioka managed back-to-back hard-hit singles, and the top of the order came up with one out. Judge hit into a force in yet another at-bat that saw a clear ball turn into a called strike against him. (No. 99’s tough night at the plate continued later on, as he saw a couple more questionable calls go against him in the top of the fifth.)

Then, Anthony Rizzo was up with runners on second and third. He was coming off a first-inning plate appearance in which the outcome wasn’t great with a soft pop-up, but he had seen eight pitches. In Rizzo’s second time at bat, he came that close to hitting a three-run bomb, as he put a charge into one that died right at the wall in right field.

You often hear about things evening themselves out in baseball. A hitter runs into one but it finds the wrong spot, and then there’s a blooper just around the corner. Something like that happened in tonight’s ballgame.

The Yankees failed to get on the board with the Rizzo fly out, but in the following inning, not one, but two Yankee hitters took Springs deep to get a two-run lead. Gleyber Torres and Matt Carpenter put the road team on the board with a pair of solo shots.

Although Carpenter scored a couple of runs in last night’s affair, this was his first hit with the Yankees. It was also his first long ball in over a year, as the former Cardinal hadn’t gone deep since April 30, 2021.

Meanwhile, Jameson Taillon was all kinds of smooth through the first four innings, as the Rays didn’t even sniff a possible hit, much less post any kind of threat to the Yankees starter. The broadcast mentioned comments from the Rays in the bottom of the fifth inning, remarking on the improved defense at catcher and shortstop for the Yankees. Interestingly enough, both ends of that spectrum would come into play rather quickly.

Randy Arozarena was the first Rays hitter to reach, he did so on a sharp grounder that Isiah Kiner-Falefa would probably say he should’ve gotten to, even though it was hit. The reigning Rookie of the Year was quickly erased though, as Kyle Higashioka made a very clean throw to get him trying to steal second. Taillon subsequently faced the minimum through five.

Manuel Margot led off the sixth inning with a double over the head of Miguel Andújar in left field, but Taillon managed to pitch around it with the help of Torres. The second baseman snared a ringing line drive up the middle from Mike Zunino.

Springs had a very nice outing with six innings of two-run ball, striking out six batters without a walk and allowing just five hits. But on a night when Taillon had one of the best outings of his careers, the margin for error was nonexistent. The Yankees’ starter stole the spotlight with eight shutout frames, allowing just the two Tampa hits.

Between Taillon and Cortes, Yankee starters now have 16 innings pitched against the Rays in this series, and only one earned run allowed. The fact that the one run was scored thanks to some shaky ninth-inning relief from Wandy Peralta last night makes it all the more impressive.

It’s the first time that the Yankees have back-to-back starters going at least eight innings since 2013 when CC Sabathia and Iván Nova accomplished the feat. Clay Holmes came in to close out the ninth inning and quickly disposed of the Rays in a 1-2-3 fashion.

The Yankees already ensured at least a split in this important four-game series, but they’ll go for the series win and hopefully a sweep with Gerrit Cole and Luis Severino to follow up. Cole goes for the Yankees on Saturday against a familiar foe, Corey Kluber. First pitch will come at 4:10pm ET back on YES Network.

Box Score