This game really rocked us across the spectrum of emotions — from the euphoria of home runs off the bats of Aaron Judge and Kyle Higashioka, to the anger of unnecessary late-inning delays, to the excitement of a one-run Dramas in the ninth . At the end of the day, all that matters is a Yankees win, and that was the bottom line.
This was always going to be a tough matchup against Ray’s ace Shane McClanahan, a notion confirmed when he stormed out of the gate firing his A-game stuff. That was of little concern to Judge, however, who threw a 3-2 hanging curveball oppo across the short porch to give the Yankees an early 1-0 lead. In a game where the stars likely dictated the outcome, the judge’s star shone brightest on homer #25.
Despite struggling to get multiple baserunners together early on against McClanahan, the Yankees made him work and increased his pitch count to 42 by the end of the second. Unfortunately, Gleyber Torres undid some of that work and tried to steal second place during McClanahan still had the ball on the mound, and TOOTBLAN’s way to an innings end caught stealing.
Playing on the other side of the ball was Nestor Cortes, showing no hangover from his worst outing of the year last time out against the Twins. He allowed just one hit in the first five innings – a double from Yandy Díaz in the third – while striking out four.
The first crack appeared in McClanahan’s armor in the fifth, and the Yankees took full advantage of it. Josh Donaldson reached second place without losing a dropped ball from substitute midfielder Brett Phillips, who took over for Kevin Kiermaier in third place. Torres edged Donaldson into third, but Aaron Hicks struck for a second time to put Isiah Kiner-Falefa on the plate with two outs.
After McClanahan fell 3-0 behind, the Rays purposely went to IKF to face off against Higashioka. The light-hitting catcher apparently took it personally as he smacked McClanahan to the point with a 1-0 fastball up and inside and sent a 369-foot bomb into the left seats to give the Yankees a 4-0 lead bring.
Just when it looked like Cortes was about to fall into a groove that could carry him into the later innings, a single brain fart brought his start to a screeching halt in the sixth. After giving a leadoff double to Díaz, he averted his eye from a throw back to the mound and was hit in the head by the ball. He compounded his mistake by waiting for a teammate to fix his mistake, allowing Díaz to move up to third place.
It appeared that Cortes was distracted after the incident and Manuel gave Margot an RBI double followed by a walk to Randy Arozarena. Just like that, his outing was over, and lack of focus likely cost him an attempt to finish the inning. Wandy Peralta came in for the last two outs and a clean seventh place, beating three in the process.
It’s hard to know how to rate this launch by Cortes. On the one hand, he was dominant over long stretches, sniffed at four-knife cutters and cutters. On the other hand, it was worrying to see his focus slipping so quickly on one big point. His last line: 5.1 innings, three hits, one run, three walks and four strikeouts on 91 pitches.
Substituting for Peralta in game eight, Miguel Castro treated us to a prototypical Castro outing in which he hit two quick outs before losing control of his pitches. He allowed Margot a two-out double and then hit Arozarena to set up a pair. This is where things got weird.
Matt Blake came out for a hilltop visit, after which the Rays announced left Ji-Man Choi would pinch hit for Isaac Paredes. This prompted Aaron Boone to ask Higashioka to stop while Lucas Luetge warmed up in the bullpen. Boone came out to make the pitching change, but the umpires collectively forgot Rule 5.10(I)(1-4)allowing for a second Hill visit during the same plate performance.
We were then forced to sit and watch the umps shake around while waiting for word from the MLB bureau before they finally allowed the pitching change to be made. Luetge came in, who gave back-to-back soft-contact RBI singles to Choi and René Pinto, suddenly cutting the Yankees’ lead to 4-3. Luetge then finally gets Phillips to fly out, easily ending the most annoying half hour most of us have been through this week.
Clay Holmes came out to complete the ninth round amid reports Aaron Boone would not commit to keeping him in the closer role once Aroldis Chapman returns. He did what he’d been doing all year and navigated around a leadoff single from Taylor Walls to pin the save and secure the Yankees’ 4-3 win. That makes it six straight wins for the Bombers and their 13th straight win at Yankee Stadium – a mark not reached in almost 50 years.
The Yankees play Luis Severino tomorrow night.some opener” Jalen Beeks (replacing current IL’d Drew Rasmussen). The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. ET, so join the game thread.