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Yankees 2, Rays 1: Judge leads way as Yanks eke out heart-pounding win

It goes in the “W” column, but oh boy, was it an adventure.

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

The Yankees were in desperate need of a win. With the AL East lead down to four games, a loss would mean the Yankees beginning the week just a series’ worth of games ahead, after having been up by a lot at various points of the season.

In the end, New York got the victory it needed. It wasn’t the prettiest, and you certainly can’t say that the Yankees figured things out in it, but it’s a win nonetheless.

Aaron Judge’s leadoff home run allowed the Yankees to lead wire-to-wire as they pulled out a 2-1 triumph over the Rays. There were still plenty of frustrations of the offensive side of things, as they went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 on base. The ninth inning probably took years off our lives, with the Rays just a hit away from a walk-off win. However, it goes in the win column, and that’s what was needed more than anything.

Desperate for some sort of offensive spark, the Yankees got off to the perfect start courtesy of — who else — Aaron Judge. In the leadoff spot, Judge took the second pitch of the game 450 feet to left, giving the Yankees the very early lead.

Montas ended up going five innings in his best start as a Yankee to date. He allowed just one hit and no walks with seven strikeouts in his five frames. In terms of innings and performance, it was maybe a bit of a hasty move, but he had thrown a lot of pitches, thanks in part to some long at-bats and a couple innings extended by an Isiah Kiner-Falefa error and a Kyle Higashioka catcher’s interference. He was nearly at 100 pitches and would’ve started the third time through the order had he come back out for the sixth. That’s likely why the Yankees went to the bullpen and brought in Lou Trivino for the sixth. Trivino allowed a single to Yandy Díaz to start the inning, but worked around it to get that third out.

It should also be noted that catcher’s interference also played a role in manager Aaron Boone getting ejected. A couple innings prior, a misunderstanding seemed to lead to the Yankees using their replay review on a DJ LeMahieu foul out that Rays catcher Christian Bethancourt caught right near the screen behind home plate. After his requests to look at the catcher’s interference — which probably wouldn’t have been overturned — were denied, Boone was eventually tossed for arguing with home-plate umpire Vic Carapazza.

After a couple missed chances, the Yankees finally added to their lead in the seventh. Following a Judge leadoff double, he narrowly managed to evade a tag and advance to third on a LeMahieu grounder. Oswaldo Cabrera then hit a fly ball that was deep enough for Judge to tag up and score without much trouble.

Ron Marinaccio entered for the seventh and quickly got into some trouble, allowing a double to David Peralta and walking Isaac Paredes. He would get the first out on a fly ball that kept the runners in place, but the Yankees would then go back to the bullpen and bring in Jonathan Loáisiga. While he struck out the first batter he faced, Loáisiga then issued a walk to load the bases. With the lineup flipping around back to the top, the 2021 relief ace managed to escape the jam, getting Díaz to ground out. Loáisiga would come back out for the eighth, but was much cleaner in that frame, quickly throwing a 1-2-3 inning.

The Yankees couldn’t add any further insurance in the top of the ninth, and then turned it over to Clay Holmes for the bottom of the inning. Things started off poorly when Peralta doubled to lead off the inning. After a fly out moved him to third, Francisco Mejía singled to get the Rays within a run. Although Holmes then got another fly out, Jonathan Aranda doubled to put the both the tying and winning run in scoring position. Díaz came up next and worked the count full. On the sixth pitch of the at-bat, Carapazza rang up Díaz for a strikeout on what was an arguably generous strike call, ending the game.

After the win, the division lead is still just five games. Nothing about the win was particularly reassuring, but at this point, the Yankees will take what they can get (even on a day in which they learned that Andrew Benintendi was lost to a broken hamate bone). They return home to Yankee Stadium to begin a four-game series with the Twins tomorrow afternoon on Labor Day, with Jameson Taillon set to face Chris Archer at 1:05pm ET.

Box Score