What started out as a pitcher's duel between Tyler Glasnow and Gerrit Cole turned into a battle of the bullpens. And in any game against the New York Yankees, one would tend to believe that the Yankees would have a built-in advantage with all the high-priced quality relievers on the New York roster.
But the Tampa Bay Rays' bullpen is just as, if not more so, formidable, and it was that advantage that provided the difference in the Rays' 4-2 victory over the Yankees at Yankee Stadium Wednesday night, the team's fourth straight victory.
The victory gave the Rays a series win in NY for the first time since August 14-16, 2018, and guarantees the Rays at least a .500 record against the Yankees, their first since 2014. The Rays are now 5-1 against New York this season and are now a half game behind the Yankees for first place in the American League East.
The eighth inning was key for Tampa Bay, scoring twice off Yankees reliever Zack Britton, those runs providing the winning cushion. It wasn't just Britton's pitching that doomed the Yankee reliever, but his fielding.
Yandy Diaz led off the inning with a grounder to first baseman Luke Voit, who dove to grab the ball, and his toss to Britton covering first eluded Britton's glove, allowing Diaz to advance to second. Diaz then advanced to third on a Britton wild pitch. After a walk to Brandon Lowe, and Diaz being thrown out at home on a Jose Martinez grounder, Mike Brosseau came through with a sharp single up the middle, driving in Lowe. Then Willy Adames drove in the Rays fourth run with a single to right that easily scored Martinez.
The Rays jumped out to a 2-0 lead on solo homers by Ji-Man Choi in the second and the much-maligned Mike Zunino in the third off Cole, who was solid in his six and two-thirds innings, save for the home runs.
Rays' starter Tyler Glasnow was equally as good, allowing only a solo homer to Voit in the third, and a lone run in the sixth after giving up a lead-off triple to Aaron Hicks. Hicks came home on a sacrifice fly by Gio Urshela off Rays' reliever Ryan Thompson.
The combination of Thompson, Pete Fairbanks, Nick Anderson, Chaz Roe (shaky in his appearance in the ninth), and Jalen Beeks allowed only two hits to the Yankees in the last three and a third innings. Fairbanks picked up the win, with Beeks earning his first save. Britton took the loss for the Bombers.
Tampa Bay's win Wednesday marked the first series loss for the Yankees at Yankee Stadium since April 2019. The Rays are now 12-3 after starting out the season 4-6, and are now 8-1 on this road trip.
The Rays can grab first place, and a sweep, with a win in New York Thursday afternoon. John Curtiss will open for the Rays, while the Yankees will try and salvage a game with lefty James Paxton on the hill. Coverage on 95.3 WDAE starts at noon Thursday with Steve Carney and the Inside Pitch; first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m.
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