The Yankees showed resilience like this team has on many nights when things aren’t going right. This time around though, the Rays were able to hold on for a 5-4 win behind a career night from infielder Isaac Paredes with his three-homer game, and a collective effort from the bullpen.
The old adage in baseball is that you go to the ballpark and just might see something you’ve never seen before. Well, tonight’s game provided just that, and it didn’t take particularly long.
In a game that the slumping Rays particularly needed, coming off a 2-8 run over their last 10, the Tampa offense jumped on Nestor Cortes early with a pair of solo home runs by Paredes and Harold Ramírez — the second of which had some very interesting characteristics:
Harold Ramirez vs Nestor Cortes#RaysUp— Would it dong? (@would_it_dong) June 21, 2022
IT'S A UNICORN
Exit velo: 85.4 mph
Launch angle: 33 deg
Proj. distance: 323 ft
This would have been a home run at Tropicana Field and nowhere else.
NYY (0) @ TB (2)
The right-field dimensions of Yankee Stadium and even Fenway get a lot of the attention, but left field at the Trop also provides hitters with a pretty short path for a long ball. When Ramírez managed to pull one just around the foul pole for a solo shot, the ball had an exit velocity of 85.4 MPH. Excluding inside-the-park home runs, it was the softest-hit long ball recorded in the Statcast Era (since 2015). The batted-ball event had an expected batting average of .030.
Getting out to this early 2-0 lead, and understanding the importance of this game for his team, Rays manager Kevin Cash managed it early on like a true playoff game. The opener Jalen Beeks found himself pitching through traffic during his entire brief time on the mound.
Beeks got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first, but in the following inning, Kyle Higashioka and Marwin Gonzalez would reach with a single and a double respectively. The managerial decision came when Cash left Beeks in while pushing his pitch count limit to face the No. 9 hitter Gallo, but also pulled the infield in trying to prevent a run.
Gallo would go on to strike out looking on a 3-2 fastball down and away, but in a bit of a demoralizing blow to the Rays, DJ LeMahieu drove both runners in anyway with a single up the middle off of Shawn Armstrong. The new reliever had just entered with two outs as the top of the order was due up again. Just like that, the Yankees had tied up the game.
On a night when Cortes didn’t have his best stuff, he managed to keep the Yankees in the ballgame. Usually when a pitcher allows three home runs that isn’t the case, but the bases were empty each time the Rays took Cortes deep.
Paredes was responsible for two of those home runs and came up again with a runner on in the top of the fifth inning. Although Cortes had only thrown 63 pitches, skipper Aaron Boone didn’t hesitate in bringing in Clarke Schmidt, and just like the Rays were burned after their first pitching change, the Yankees were as well. It didn’t help that Schmidt’s first pitch was an absolute cookie:
Isaac Paredes wasn’t going to be denied tonight — particularly not when he was given such an easy offering. The first baseman completed his hat trick, increasing the Rays' lead to 5-2. Ron Marinaccio and Lucas Luetge combined for three perfect innings after Schmidt’s fifth, but the Rays managed to maintain the lead granted by the homers.
The Tampa bullpen kept things quiet after that LeMahieu two-run single in the top of the second until the top of the eighth inning. Brooks Raley came out for a second inning of work and struggled to find the zone, walking the aforementioned LeMahieu and Donaldson to lead off the frame — the last thing any pitcher wants to do with a three-run lead.
Cash already had Jason Adam warmed up, but the Rays manager left Raley in to face the pinch-hitting Anthony Rizzo, who ended up flying out. Adam came in for Stanton and despite the recent struggles of the Yankees’ DH, he hit a bullet at 111.4 MPH, but Taylor Walls made the defensive play of the game ranging to his right:
Because the ball was hit so hard, the double play was in order. The Rays got out of the inning unscathed.
In a season where the word “quit” is seemingly not in the Yankees’ vocabulary, the team managed to make it very interesting in the ninth inning. Marwin Gonzalez was up with two outs and a runner on, and the Yankees’ left fielder took Colin Poche deep for a two-run bomb:
That meant Aaron Judge could pinch-hit for Gallo as the tying run.
Judge ran into one, and almost hit it out to the same spot as the Gonzalez bomb, but the MVP candidate just couldn’t get enough on it, and the ball died near the track. No fan ever wants to hear about moral victories, but it’s hard to feel better about a team than any Yankees fan can, following this loss. They’re still a 50-18 ballclub.
Jordan Montgomery will take the ball tomorrow night against Shane Baz. It’s the rubber match of this series and first pitch will come at 7:10pm ET.