The Yankees snatched defeat from the jaws of victory after a late-innings comeback of their own as Travis d’Arnaud hit a game-winning, three-run homer with two outs in the ninth inning against the Yankees.
The Rays took the game, 5-4, and the Yankees’ lead in the AL East is reduced to 5.0 games.
Let’s get to the takeaways:
1. Travis d’Arnaud stole a win
The Yankees had the Rays down to their final strike with Aroldis Chapman on the mound. Only problem? Travis d’Arnaud is Superman against the Yankees right now.
Fresh off his walk-off homer before the break, d’Arnaud went 3-for-3 with three home runs, 5 RBI and two walks. Spitting on perfectly good pitches that would get plenty of hitters to chase, he just saw everything well tonight. Absolutely locked in like Mike Trout for a day.
He led off the game with a solo homer against James Paxton and took the lefty deep two innings later. Both pitches were left near the middle of the plate and he drove the ball to almost the exact same spot.
But his at-bat against Chapman was unreal. Chapman was off tonight, getting behind hitters with the fastball before relying on his slider to get swings. It almost worked, getting two strikeouts after allowing back-to-back singles to start the ninth.
And he was ahead 1-2 on d’Arnaud thanks to that same slider. Still, d’Arnaud fouled back two 101 mph fastballs, spit on two sliders and then drove the winning three-run shot to the short porch on a hanging slider, his only really bad slider of the night. Ugh.
Before tonight, the Yankees were 49-0 when leading after eight. The Rays were 0-32.
2. Tonight is why the Yankees acquired Edwin Encarnacion
Blake Snell had the Yankees off balance for five innings and really made just one mistake, a two-out home run to Edwin Encarnacion.
Snell was by no means efficient. The Yankees ground him just as they did in the penultimate game before the break and he lasted just five innings, throwing 93 pitches. Still, the Encarnacion dinger was the only run as he got a big out and saw a few hard hit balls just miss.
With the game tied at two in the eighth inning, reliever Andrew Kittredge wasn’t nearly as smooth as the former Cy Young winner and he made a major mistake with two outs, a two-run homer to Encarnacion.
Edwin saw 26 pitches in four at-bats against three different pitches and that includes a one-pitch out against Snell in his first at-bat. His home runs came on the sixth and ninth pitches of his at-bats, respectively, fouling back everything until he gets his pitch.
And remember, the Rays are paying more for him to hit these homers than the Yankees are. That’s wild, even if the Bombers ultimately lost.
3. Gio Urshela is magic in a bottle
How do we even quantify Gio at this point? There have been a dozen times this season when I’ve expected the bottom to fall out on his season, yet he keeps hitting.
Today, with the Yankees trailing by one and seven outs from defeat, he smashed a solo home run off Emilio Pagan, who came into the bullpen for his at-bat. It was his second straight day with a clutch hit.
The ball was hit 106.1 mph even though it looked somewhat like a pop fly off the bat. Hit it that far and your 41 degree launch angle doesn’t matter whatsoever.
4. James Paxton was perfectly adequate
James Paxton is an awful pitcher in the first inning this year, then great the rest of the way. He continued that again today, allowing a solo homer and a hard-hit single in the first before holding the Rays to one run over his final five frames. His ERA is over 10 in the first inning and under 2.50 the rest of the way.
He didn’t overpower the Rays quite as he did in the Sunday before the All-Star break, yet the left-hander struck out seven and got 17 swings and misses, 11 on fastballs.
Paxton also got through six innings for the third straight start, something he hadn’t done since June/July 2018. Aaron Boone showed faith in him by allowing him to navigate a two-men-on, one-out jam in the sixth and he rewarded Boone by getting a strikeout and line out.
- The box score will tell you Chad Green tossed two scoreless innings, but he really got away with some pitches. He had two line drives driven to the wall that Aaron Hicks ran down, plus another OK-hit fly ball to the warning track for Judge. All five balls in play against him were hit 90+ mph.
- A few key misses for home plate ump Gerry Davis, though it favored the Yankees. What could have been a key walk for Judge in the sixth inning should have been strike three and then the 1-2 pitch in Luke Voit’s game-ending strikeout was an easy strike three, yet was called a ball.
- Hicks had two hits, including one before Encarnacion’s second homer. Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu singled. Voit and Gary Sanchez went 0-for-9 combined with five strikeouts. Ugly night at the plate for Voit, who DH’d.
- Judge and Sanchez had standout defensive plays. Judge threw out a runner at third base while Sanchez picked off a man at second base. These would have gotten their own takeaway in a win.
Yankees get a chance to shake off this loss with CC Sabathia (5-4, 4.03 ERA) facing an opener/Jalen Beeks (5-0, 2.79) on Tuesday night. That one will be on YES at 7:05 p.m. Ugh, gonna take some time to forget this one. This is the type of game that can change a season … or mean nothing if the Yankees win tomorrow.