One breakout performance by the Yankees’ bats doesn’t guarantee a recent funk has ended.
Yet, for a team whose bats had turned to dust in the previous six games, an 8-3 win over the Rays on Tuesday night in front of 40,401 sweaty fans was a fascinating way to show some life at the plate.
Aaron Judge hit a two-run homer in that eighth that put the Yankees ahead by a run and the slumping Didi Gregorius added a grand slam off lefty Colin Poche to make it 8-3.
Judge missed a homer by a few feet on the previous pitch from Poche before making sure with a long drive that easily cleared the right-field wall. It was Judge’s 10th homer and the first since he hit two on July 5 against the Rays.
The victory came after the Yankees scored a total of 17 runs in the previous six games in which they went 2-4. It also pushed their AL East lead back to six games over the second-place Rays.
CC Sabathia and Rays right fielder Avisail Garcia breathed some emotion into the game by jawing at each other after Sabathia slipped a 3-2 pitch by a looking Garcia for the final out of the sixth inning.
With Sabathia nearing the first-base line on the way to the dugout he said something toward Garcia and gestured with his hands. Garcia seemingly objected then started moving toward Sabathia, who was immediately restrained by Gregorius. Near the plate Garcia was being held back by third base coach Rodney Linares. Reading Sabathia’s lips he appeared to say, “If I was talking to you I would be talking to you.”
Dugouts and bullpens emptied and shuffled around home plate but no punches were thrown or was anybody shoved.
In six innings Sabathia gave up three runs and five hits and left losing, 3-2. Two of the hits were homers by Austin Meadows and Yandy Diaz.
Edwin Encarnacion and DJ LeMahieu also homered for the Yankees, who have scored at least one run in 175 straight games. That is the third longest stretch since 1900. The all-time record is 308 games set by the Yankees from Aug. 3, 1931 to Aug. 2, 1933.
Nelson Cortes Jr. relieved Sabathia to start the seventh and loaded the bases with one out before giving way to David Hale. He induced Travis d’Arnaud to hit a hard chopper to Gregorius that started an inning-ending 6-4-3 and keep the Rays lead at one. Hale was the winner and is now 3-0.
LeMahieu’s opposite-field homer to right with one out in the sixth cut the Rays’ lead to 3-2. After Judge beat the shift with a single to center, right-hander Hunter Wood took over for lefty Jalen Beeks to face the slumping Luke Voit who was 2-for-15 (.133) with nine strikeouts after banging into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
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