There weren’t many opportunities to score on these pitchers today. Whether it was the starters dealing and evading trouble or the relievers shutting the door, both offenses struggled to get going. It took extra innings before the Rays finally broke through, but Austin Meadows found the death blow and Tampa Bay took back first place with a 2-1 victory.
The Yankees had the first shot at breaking the game open, and it came early. They loaded the bases in the third inning on two singles and a walk, and got a gift from Blake Snell. The left-handed bounced a ball in the dirt, allowing Brett Gardner to score from third, but Snell rebounded to avoid the big blow.
New York didn’t get another baserunner until the sixth inning, when Aaron Hicks reached on an error and advanced to second. Gleyber Torres lined a single to left field and Hicks blew through a stop sign at third, nearly making it to the plate before getting narrowly gunned down by Meadows.
That near-miss immediately came to bite the Yankees, because Masahiro Tanaka had to leave the game after six innings and his replacement, Tommy Kahnle, served up a leadoff home run to Brandon Lowe. Tanaka was on point on the afternoon, but had to leave because of a bruise to his right shin. X-rays were negative, but it interrupted a stellar performance and creates even more to worry about for a injury-riddled team.
The Yankees had to walk it off to win the game, and in the ninth inning Gio Urshela nearly delivered. The third baseman has been super clutch so far in this miraculous run, and Urshela battled for 12 pitches against Emilio Pagan before driving a ball to the wall, just coming short of a game-winning home run.
Extra innings however, belonged to the Rays today. Meadows launched a ball to the short porch off of Luis Cessa in the eleventh inning to put the Rays ahead, and Jose Alverado closed the game out in the bottom half of the frame. Alverado got Gary Sanchez to ground into a 5-4-3 double play to end the game, the only at-bat that didn’t end in a strikeout for Sanchez in a rough afternoon.
The series, and the division lead, is still hanging on the series finale tomorrow. The Yankees will be deploying the bullpen early against Rays pitcher Charlie Morton, with Chad Green getting the start. First pitch will be at 1:05 p.m. EST, and we’ll have more on that tomorrow.