Judge, Gardner Power Yankees Past Rays 8-4

No matter how hard the Tampa Bay Rays try, they can’t seem to beat the New York Yankees.

The good feeling of taking a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh Friday night after a two-run single by Kevin Kiermaier was short-lived, as Aaron Hicks led off the top of the eighth with a home run off Emilio Pagan to tie the score.

The game remained tied into the 11th inning when Aaron Judge, who had homered off Rays starter Brendan McKay to give the Yankees an early 1-0 lead, homered again off the first pitch he saw from reliever Ryne Stanek, giving the Yankees a 5-4 lead the Rays could not overcome. Brett Gardner added a three-run shot in the 11th off Stanek as added insurance to give the Yankees their final runs in an 8-4 victory.

“It’s tough because we’ve played them so tight the last two days and it seems like everything they do right now kind of turns to gold,” Stanek said after the game.

In only his second start in the big leagues, McKay was being asked to equal or perhaps surpass the performance of his pitching opponent, Masahiro Tanaka, who has dominated the Rays over his career. A tough task for sure, but McKay definitely lived up to the challenge, although he was on the back end of a 3-2 deficit as he departed the game after five innings and 83 pitches.

Nate Lowe hit his first major-league homer in the fourth, tying the score at 1, but as the Yankees are wont to do, they regained the lead the very next inning as Mike Tauchman drove home Gleyber Torres and Brett Gardner with a single to the right side.

Mike Zunino got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fifth with a lead off home run off Tanaka, his fourth of the year, and his first since returning from the IL a few weeks back.

The Rays were able to bring the tying run up to the plate in the bottom of the 11th, but Tommy Pham lined out to DJ LeMahieu with the bases loaded, ending a rough 0-for-6 night. Pham himself left 10 Rays runners on base.

Tanaka left the game with two runners on in the seventh and was responsible for the runs driven in by Kiermaier. He was in line for a rare loss against the Rays until Hicks’ at-bat in the eighth. And the back end of the Yankees bullpen, Nestor Cortes Jr. and David Hale, held the Rays at bay for the final four innings, until Aroldis Chapman got the final two outs with a strikeout of Guillermo Heredia and the Pham lineout.

The Rays are now 2-9 against the Yankees this season, and are a season-high 8 ½ games behind the Yankees in the AL East.

*Hale earned his second victory of the season, while Stanek absorbed his second loss.

*Blake Snell hopes to continue where he left off from his last performance, defeating the Texas Rangers on June 30 after a poor month, including a career worst one-third of an inning against these same Yankees on June 19 in the Bronx. He’ll get the start Saturday against CC Sabathia, who has allowed only four runs total to the Rays this season over three games. First pitch is set for 4:10 p.m.

Photo Courtesy Getty Images

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