Yankees best Chris Archer and head home with a 3-2 win to avoid sweep

The Yankees entered Sunday’s game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the midst of their first real rough patch of the 2017 season. The team had just a 3-7 record in their previous 10 games prior to Sunday, a stretch in which the starting pitching has struggled mightily for the most part. Masahiro Tanaka has had an especially rough go of it lately, following up his poor showing against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium last week with another disastrous performance against the Rays Saturday afternoon. That showing saw Tanaka’s ERA for the season balloon all the way to 6.56 and further increased concerns about his performance thus far this season. The Yankees looked to CC Sabathia to right the ship and end the road trip on a positive note.
Credit: Chris O'Meara AP Photo

The Yankees sent Sabathia to the mound against familiar adversary Chris Archer. CC was coming off of a good performance in which he delivered 6.2 innings of shutout ball against the Kansas City Royals. In the top of the first the Yankees had a chance to take an early lead after a single by Brett Gardner and a throwing error by Rays shortstop Tim Beckham left them with runners on second and third with no one out. Archer buckled down though and struck out the next three batters to escape the jam unscathed. Sabathia was not so lucky in the bottom of the first however when the Rays used an infield single by Corey Dickerson, a walk to Evan Longoria and a throwing error by Gary Sanchez to scrape across one run before CC struck out the side to escape further trouble.

The Yankees came back to bail out Sabathia in the top of the second inning using a leadoff double by Jacoby Ellsbury, an RBI single by Didi Gregorius and a two run home run by Brett Gardner to take a 3-1 lead.
Credit: Chris O'Meara AP Photo
After all the early action, the middle portion of this game was a pitcher’s duel with both Sabathia and Archer settling into grooves. Sabathia pitched into the sixth inning but did not record an out and left with a runner on base. He pitched well and didn’t find himself in much trouble but the Rays were able to drive up his pitch count and get him out of the game. The only mistake he made after the first inning was allowing a solo home run to Derek Norris in the fifth inning. Overall it was more of what have come to expect from the big lefty. His stuff is clearly diminished but the effort is always there and he battles with what he has left. 


After his rough second inning Archer did not allow another run, cruising into the seventh inning before being lifted with one out and two runners on base. Even though he ran out of gas in the seventh, Archer was sensational, striking out 12 batters and walking two. Archer was especially dominant against the Yankees right handed batters, holding them hitless and racking up 10 strikeouts against them. It was left handers Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius and Jacoby Ellsbury who did most of the work for the Yankees, combining for six hits and all three RBI against Archer. Danny Farquhar emerged from the Rays bullpen to strike out Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday to end the threat and complete Archer's line. 
Credit: Chris O'Meara AP Photo
After Sabathia left in the sixth, the Yankees brought in Chad Green to bridge the gap to the back of the bullpen. He was able to successfully get the ball to Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances, pitching 1.2 innings and allowing just 1 walk. He got a major boost in the sixth inning from his big right fielder though. With one out in the sixth and Corey Dickerson on first base, Yankee killer Evan Longoria hit one deep into the gap in right center field. Had it fallen for a hit it would have surely tied the game and deprived CC of an opportunity to get a win. Instead it was Aaron Judge, using all of his 6 foot 7 inch frame to fly in and make a full extension diving catch that allowed them double up Dickerson at first and preserve the lead. It was an absolutely incredible play in one the most crucial moments of the game.

Joe Girardi clearly wanted this win based on how he managed his bullpen today. With Kevin Kiermaier on third base with two outs in the seventh, Girardi went to Clippard to close the door. Then, with no one on base with two outs in the eight inning he elected to go to closer Dellin Betances, who promptly struck out Corey Dickerson. Betances returned in the ninth and set the Rays down 1,2,3 to close out the game and send the Yankees back to the Bronx with a much needed win.

Winning Pitcher: CC Sabathia (4-2, 4.62 ERA), 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 6 K, 1 BB
Losing Pitcher: Chris Archer (3-3, 3.76 ERA), 6.1 IP, 3 ER, 12 K, 2 BB  
Save: Dellin Betances (2)

Notables
Brett Gardner: 2-4, HR (8), R, 2 RBI
Didi Gregorius: 4-4, R, 1 RBI
Jacoby Ellsbury: 1-4, R
Aaron Judge: 0-4, 4 Ks (The dreaded Golden Sombrero) 

The Yankees next match-up will be Monday night at Yankee Stadium against the Kansas City Royals, with first pitch coming at 7:05 PM on the YES Network. The probable starters Michael Pineda (4-2, 3.42 ERA) and Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA). This is a rematch of Wednesday nights pitching match-up when the Yankees roughed up Vargas and Pineda turned in a solid outing. 

Article by Matt Graziano

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