New York Yankees (56-29) @ Tampa Bay Rays (50-38)
Well, if nothing else, these final games leading up to the All-Star Break have been very entertaining. The Yankees blew a lead late in the game two nights in a row, but managed to pull out a win in extras both nights.
Aaron Judge started us off with a solo shot in the first to get the scoring started. Mike Tauchman, playing for Aaron Hicks (rest, sort of) in left had a two-run single in the fifth inning to break a 1-1 tie, following Nate Lowe’s home run off Tanaka in the fourth.
Tanaka allowed another solo shot in the fifth to Mike Zunino to cut the lead to 3-2. Then, for the second night in a row, the bullpen came in and gave up a lead. Nestor Cortes, Jr. got the call with runners on first and third with one out. He proceeded to hit Austin Meadows, strike out Tommy Pham, then Kevin Kiermaier hit a two-run double to take a 4-3 lead. However, Austin Meadows was thrown at third to end the inning.
But, this Yankees team doesn’t go away that easily. Emilio Pagan came in and blew the lead on his second pitch. Aaron Hicks, pinch hitting for Tauchman, tattooed an 0-1 slider into the right field seats to tie the game.
Ho-hum nonsense until we reached the 11th inning; then, more quick damage. Aaron Judge hit a frozen rope to dead center on Ryne Stanek’s first pitch to break the tie, again. Then, to add the cherry on top, Brett Gardner smoked a 2-0 fastball to right field for a 3-run dinger to blow the game open, 8-4.
Not without suspense, however, the combination of David Hale and Aroldis Chapman managed to load the bases with two outs to bring the tying run, Tommy Pham, to the plate. Chapman fell behind 3-0, but Pham lined out to first baseman DJ LeMahieu to end the game.
The Yankees are now 9-2 against the Rays. 6-1 against the Red Sox. 10-2 against the Orioles. 4-2 against the Blue Jays. Yes, you read that right. They are absolutely shitting on their divisional opponents. 29-7 against a division that produced a 108-win World Series champion Red Sox team, and a 90-win Rays team a season ago.
They’ve built a season-high 8.5 game lead in the division; and, let’s face it, they’ve done it with a garbage rotation. Hey Brian, no pressure **cough cough** Max Scherzer **cough cough**.