New York Yankees (55-29) @ Tampa Bay Rays (50-37)
The Yankees have flipped the 2018 script completely on its head. The narrative that the Yankees beat up on everyone but struggle against their own division has taken a complete one-eighty. Well, almost. Now, they’re just beating up on EVERYONE.
It didn’t come without suspense, however. Aroldis Chapman did everything in his power to lose this game. He couldn’t throw strikes, was throwing balls past catcher Gary Sanchez allowing the tying run to come in. Then, finally struck out Austin Meadows with the bases loaded to leave the damage at a 3-3 tie, headed into extras.
The game began as a solid matchup between Rays’ starter Yonny Chirinos and J.A. Happ. Happ let up the game’s first run quickly, allowing a pair of doubles in the first inning. He then settled down quickly and didn’t allow another run for the rest of the night, going 5.1 strong, allowing just three hits and the one aforementioned run.
Chirinos, on the other hand, got off to a stronger start, then bogged down. He started the first two innings by facing the minimum six hitters, allowing no hits and struck out two. Then, after a hit by Mike Ford, a passed ball, an RBI single by Mike Tauchman, and a two-out double by Aaron Hicks, the Yankees took a 2-1 lead. Edwin Encarnacion added a third run with a solo bomb in the seventh inning.
Both bullpens then did their job. Until we got to the bottom of the ninth inning. Yankees’ closer Aroldis Chapman could not get the job done. He was all over the place, walking guys, throwing wild pitches; everything that could go wrong, went wrong. But, he got out of it without losing the game totally.
Then, the Yankees did what they do best. Two impressive walks by Gio Urshela and Aaron Judge to start the innings. Then a perfect (sacrifice) bunt by Brett Gardner to load the bases with no outs. DJ LeMahieu is batting .480 with runners in scoring position this year. FOUR-EIGHTY! On top of that, he’s 8-10 with the bases loaded this year. That’s an average of EIGHT HUNDRED! I mean, my God, what did you expect would happen. If you guessed a two-run single, you’re correct. He just puts bat on ball, routinely finding holes and put the good guys up 5-3.
Then, after an Aaron Hicks strikeout, and a visit to the mound by the Rays’ pitching coach, Gary Sanchez hit a 461 foot 3-run BOMB to the third deck in left field to put the game away.
It took both Luis Cessa AND David Hale to close out an 8-4 win, but a win is a win. The Yankees are now 8-2 against the second place Rays, and 28-7 against the AL East. There’s no better way to run away with a division than beating the shit out of all your division rivals. The Yankees are doing that, let’s keep it rolling!