The Yankees got six shutout innings from their bullpen and a walk-off home run in the 11th inning from Clint Frazier to beat the Rays in the Bronx tonight by a final of 5-3. The win breaks a four-game losing streak for the Yankees, as they pulled to within four and a half games of first-place Tampa Bay.
The Rays got the scoring started in the bottom of the first inning when Brandon Lowe led off with an infield single off the glove of Domingo Germán. After a fantastic play from shortstop Gio Urshela that took a likely hit away from Randy Arozarena, and a strikeout of Ji-Man Choi on a nasty changeup, it looked like the Yankees would escape unscathed. Tampa Bay’s Austin Meadows quickly corrected Yankee fans’ silly optimism with a home run into the right-field seats, the second in as many nights for him. The Rays had themselves a two-run lead that may as well have felt like a 10-run lead, given the Yankees’ recent performances.
Tampa starter Tyler Glasnow decided to be generous to the Yankees in the bottom of the third, and he ended up getting himself into trouble as a result. After an inexplicable four-pitch walk to Frazier in the nine hole with two outs and nobody on base, he then surrendered back-to-back singles to DJ LeMahieu and Rougned Odor, bringing Aaron Judge to the plate with the bases loaded.
After two very nice plays from catcher Mike Zunino blocking breaking pitches in the dirt (a point we’ll return to in a moment), Glasnow continued with his newfound control issues and completed a five-pitch walk to Judge, forcing in a run. With Urshela now batting, Glasnow fired another curve in the dirt, and this one Zunino couldn’t stop, as LeMahieu – who reacted expecting a curve in the dirt to be thrown — ran home, scoring the tying run. The inning ended with an Urshela fly ball to right field, but the Yankees had tied the game, 2-2.
In the next frame, Glasnow changed his two-out, nobody on base modus operandi and fired a first-pitch 96 mph fastball middle away to Miguel Andújar, who lined a laser into the right-field seats, giving the Yankees a 3-2 lead.
However, Rays center fielder Kevin Kiermaier wasted little time dumping a cold bucket water on the excitement of Andújar’s second bomb in two nights. The veteran led off the fifth with a solo shot of his own to right field — his first of the season — to tie the game yet again.
The Yankees tempted fate in the top of the sixth, when after another great backhand play from Urshela for the first out, Yankees manager Aaron Boone called on left-hander Wandy Peralta to face the next two batters, both lefties. Apparently, there was confusion in the messaging, as Peralta issued consecutive walks to Choi and Meadows.
Boone then turned to righty Jonathan Loaisiga, and Meadows quickly returned the favor he had been granted by Peralta, as he was picked off of first base after venturing too far off on a pitch in the dirt. A timely Gary Sánchez throw and a quick Mike Ford tag gave New York its second out of the inning, which turned out to be huge. Facing Yandy Díaz, Loaisiga issued the inning’s third walk to a Rays batter. Fortunately, the Yankees somehow escaped unscathed when Loaisiga fanned Joey Wendle, and the game entered the seventh still tied at three.
Sánchez got the Yankees started on the right foot in the bottom of the frame, leading off with a 105.6-mph line-drive double to left field. Then when Andújar followed with a grounder to short — to Sánchez’s right — Gary decided that the “outs on the bases” league lead that the Yankees possess just wasn’t comfortable enough, and took off for third. Predictably, he was tagged out after a rather brief rundown. Javy Báez, he is not. Brett Gardner and Frazier were retired, and the Yankees had officially wasted a big opportunity.
Frazier helped the Yankees force the Rays to waste a scoring chance of their own in the top of the eighth. Some two-out wildness from Chad Green put runners on first and third with Wendle up to bat again. He hit a short fly to right that seemed like it might drop. That’s when Frazier turned Superman:
The Yankees threatened again in the bottom half of the frame, facing new Rays pitcher J.P. Feyereisen. With two outs and nobody on, Judge drew a walk and Urshela followed with a ground ball with eyes single to set up a first and second, two-out situation. Having seen Mike Ford strike out three times already, Aaron Boone called on Giancarlo Stanton to pinch-hit. After an anti-climactic routine grounder to shortstop, the Yankees watched another opportunity pass, and the game moved to the ninth, still tied at 3-3.
Continuing more of the same pattern, New York was able to get two runners on in the bottom of the ninth inning, only to see DJ LeMahieu hit a clothesline right at Lowe for the third out. Even more frustratingly, with the help of the ghost runner, an intentional walk to Judge, and a walk to pinch-hitter Gleyber Torres, the Yankees loaded the bases in their half of the tenth. When Sánchez waved at strike three on a pitch out of the zone, that opportunity went by the wayside as well.
Luis Cessa tossed a scoreless 11th, though it felt like the home half would offer much of the same. Once more, it was Frazier to the rescue, as he decided that 10 runners left on base were quite enough:
Frazier smashed an 0-1 hanging slider from Andrew Kittredge over the left-field wall to give the Yankees the 5-3 win. The losing streak was officially snapped and we could all breathe a little bit easier — at least for one night anyway. Between the diving catch and walk-off bomb, it was a big night for the struggling Frazier. Hopefully, it’s a good sign of a resurgence to come.
The Yankees will look to make it two in a row for the first time in a week and a half tomorrow against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. First pitch is at 7:05 pm ET as Jordan Montgomery squares off with Shane McClanahan.