Today was a pitching mismatch of epic proportions. Hoping to salvage a win against the lowly Rays, the Yankees sent out the struggling Ivan Nova. Unfortunately, he was pitted against Chris Archer, who has utterly dominated them throughout his career. It seemed like this game was going exactly how it was expected–three runs off Nova, two hits by the Yankees heading into the sixth–but things turned around fast and they managed to squeak by for the win.
Having lost his last three games, Nova actually gave the Yankees a fighting chance as he allowed three runs on six hits and a walk while striking out three in six innings. He was hit early on when he allowed a two-run home run to Kevin Kiermaier over the right field porch in the second inning. He followed that up with another poor inning in the third where Daniel Nava walked, Grady Sizemore singled, and Logan Forsythe got a hit to drive in a third run on the afternoon. From there, however, he held the Rays offense off long enough for the Yankees to do their damage.
Archer, meanwhile, seemed to be setting up Tampa Bay for an easy win as the Yankees couldn't get anything going off him for the first five innings. Then in the sixth everything suddenly fell apart for him when Jacoby Ellsbury–who is 14-21 against Archer lifetime (!)–collected his second hit of the day and Carlos Beltran walked. Brian McCann then came up and drilled a 3-1 fastball over the right field wall for a three-run home run to tie the game. Just as it looked like they were back in the game, the Yankees flat out took it when Alex Rodriguez hit a solo shot on the first pitch he saw to make it a 4–3 game. They scored again in the seventh when Didi Gregorius singled and Jacoby Ellsbury walked to chase Archer from the game. Brett Gardner then grounded into a force out against Enny Romero and Didi was able to score the team's fifth run of the game all the way from second.
After Nova provided six decent innings, he handed it off to the bullpen to close out the game. Justin Wilson struck out two in the seventh inning before turning to Dellin Betances. The big righty had a bad day as he walked two with two outs in the seventh before finally getting out of his own jam and also allowed a solo home run from Asdrubal Cabrera in the eighth to make it a one-run game.
The Yankees threatened again in the bottom of the eighth when Brian McCann walked, A-Rod singled, and Greg Bird, who doubled in the sixth, walked to load the bases. Chase Headley grounded into a force out at home plate, but Didi delivered with another hit to give the Yankees six runs on the afternoon. Andrew Miller came in to shut the door in the ninth, allowing a fly ball to the right field wall and striking out another batter. He then made things interesting by alllowing hits to Mikie Mahtook and Evan Longoria. Miller then got Brandon Guyer to swing at strike three to end the game.
New York takes the series 3-2, keeping within 1.5 games of the Toronto Blue Jays. They will face the Orioles in a three-game set before taking on the Jays in a very important four-game series next weekend, so it's important that they win as many games against teams like Tampa and Baltimore as possible to at least keep pace in the division race. Taking games from Chris Archer, like they did today, is exactly what they need to be doing.