For the first time this season, Jose Alvarado could not hold on to a ninth-inning lead, squandering a 3-1 advantage as New York scored three times in their final turn at the plate to defeat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 Friday at Yankee Stadium, overtaking the Rays for first place in the American League East..
Alvarado's first pitch Friday night was a 99 MPH sinker that was left up in the zone, and Luke Voit did not liss it, sending it into the home bullpen for his 11th home run of the season. Gary Sanchez followed with a base hit and after Kendrys Morales struck out for the first out of the inning, Gleyber Torres worked a ten-pitch at bat before doubling off the wall in left, moving pinch-runner Thairo Estrada to third base. Clint Frazier was intentionally walked to load the bases, and on the first pitch to Cameron Maybin, Alvarado spiked the ball into the dirt and off catcher Travis d'Arnaud's shoulder, allowing Estrada to score the tying run. Maybin grounded into a fielder's choice erasing Torres at the plate, and Gio Urshela singled over Kevin Kiermaier's head to end the game and send Alvarado to his third loss of the season.
New York initially took a 1-0 lead on opener Ryne Stanek in the bottom of the second inning, when Morales unloaded on a 97 MPH fastball, sending it into the suite level down the right-field line for his first home run as a member of the Yankees and second of the season overall.
Willy Adames tied the game leading off the top of the fourth, taking the first pitch of the at-bat from Yankees starter CC Sabathia and depositing it in the left field seats for his second home run of the season.
The game remained tied at one apiece, as Yonny Chirinos and Adam Kolarek kept the Yankees in check, while Sabathia, Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle did the same to Rays hitters, but Tampa Bay got to Chad Green in the ninth, as Daniel Robertson doubled with one out in the inning and two batters later score on a double to center by Brandon Lowe. Kevin Kiermaier then beat out an infield single, and Lowe would score when Torres threw the ball into the stands for an error.
Diego Castillo worked a perfect eighth before giving way to Alvarado to try and close out the game.
The loss drops Tampa Bay to one game behind New York in the win column for the American League East lead.
Tampa Bay Rays (26-16) at New York Yankees (27-16), 1:05 pm first pitch, with coverage on WDAE beginning at noon with The Inside Pitch.
Rays starter: LHP Blake Snell (3-4, 3.56 ERA)
Yankees starter: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.44 ERA)