Gardner walks it off once again, Yankees win sixth straight vs Rays

The rejuvenated Yankees have found themselves back in first place after five straight wins and a cold spell by the Red Sox, and planned on staying in first and expanding their lead as they faced off vs Tampa in a Saturday afternoon game at the Stadium. Lefty youngster Caleb Smith got the start for the Yanks but was pulled early, as this game wound up in the hands of the Yankees bullpen. This back and forth game ended with another Brett Gardner walk off, as a single up the middle with the bases loaded in the ninth gave the Yanks their sixth straight win by a score of 5-4.

Photo Credit: AP Julie Jacobson

Smith did not get off to the start he was hoping for, as the second pitch of the game went over the wall off the bat of Peter Bourjos, to give the Rays an immediate 1-0 lead. Smith would ease into the game, striking out the next two hitters swinging. The Yanks went down in order in the fist, but were in business to start the second, as a Gary Sanchez blooper turned into a ground rule double putting a runner in scoring position with nobody out. 

Photo Credit: AP Julie Jacobson

Sanchez advanced to third on a Holliday groundout, and scored off a sacrifice fly by the red hot Didi Gregorius, putting the Yankees on the board and tying it at 1-1. Caleb Smith continued to struggle in the third inning, loading the bases after surrendering two base hits and a walk. Lucas Duda came through and registered a sacrifice fly in his second game for the Rays, as he lifted a ball to center off Smith, scoring Bourjos from third and giving the Rays the lead right back at 2-1. Smith would get out of the inning with some help from the pride of Toms River Todd Frazier, who made a barehanded play on a dribbler down the line, saving a run and keeping the Yanks deficit at one.

Ronald Torreyes led off the bottom of the third with a double down the line, but would not score from second, as the top of the lineup could not get the job done. Caleb Smith was pulled in the fourth inning after only 71 pitches, as Adam Warren came on in relief to begin the Yankee bullpens day.

After throwing out a runner to end the top half of the fourth, Gary continued his recent hot surge when he took a 2-2 breaking ball into the left field seats to tie the game and hit his second home run in as many games. Later in the inning, the Yanks would get runners on first and second, but would leave them stranded, unable to take the lead.

Photo Credit: AP Julie Jacobson

After the Yanks failed to take the lead, the Rays would make them pay, as a Steven Souza Jr. home run off Warren gave the Rays the lead right back at 3-2. After a quiet bottom half of the fifth, the sixth inning saw Dellin Betances take the mound much earlier than usual, looking to keep the score right where it was.

Betances had a familiar start out of the pen, throwing four consecutive pitches out of the strike zone to walk the first man he faced, a sight that has become nauseating for Yankee fans. Betances would get the next two men out, before striking out Beckham looking on a nasty breaking ball to get out of the inning.

A Holliday base hit ended Blake Snell's day, who pitched very well, and brought on newly acquired Ray Sergio Romo to face pinch hitter Chase Headley. Headley would come through in a big way, sending a 1-0 pitch the opposite way and into the front row for a home run to give the Yanks their first lead of the game at 4-3. Romo got the next two Yankees out to send it to the seventh hoping his team could pick him up. 
Photo Credit: AP Julie Jacobson

Tommy Kahnle was the next Yankee reliever to take the mound, and he would run into some trouble unlike his previous outings in pinstripes. Kahnle gave up two base hits in his inning of work to put runners on the corners with only one out. Kahnle would show his grit however, getting Souza Jr. to go down swinging and Longoria to pop out to the catcher to record the hold and keep the Yankees ahead.

The top of the lineup for the Yanks struck out in order against tough reliever Steve Cishek in the seventh, as David Robertson came out for the eighth inning looking to keep the score at 4-3: which he would not, as Lucas Duda clobbered a ball into the right field upper deck to tie the game at four. D Rob kept the game tied, as the Yanks once again went down in order in the eighth, bringing the game to the ninth all tied up.

Aroldis Chapman pitched the ninth despite it not being a save situation, and continued to look like his dominant self, touching 104 twice on the gun, and getting out of the inning despite a mishap at first where he had Souza Jr. picked off. Yet, a dropped tag by Didi allowed him to go to third, before Chapman got Longoria to pop out in foul territory. The Yanks would need  to walk it off once again if they wanted the victory Saturday afternoon.

Headley began the inning with a walk, and was taken out of the game for pinch runner Jacoby Ellsbury, who did his job and stole second base to set up the bottom of the Yankee lineup for a dramatic end to the day. Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch to put runners on first and second with nobody out, bringing up Torreyes.

Torreyes was bunting, and finally got one down on the fourth pitch, which went into no mans land causing everyone to be safe. Brett Gardner would have yet another chance to deliver his team with a walk off win for the second time this series. The Rays brought in lefty Dan Jennings to face Gardner, which would be the final nail in the coffin for the Rays, as Gardy walked it off once again with a base hit up the middle to give the Yankees the victory.

This was the sixth straight win for the Yankees, and clinches another series for them, as they remain on top of the AL East. The Yanks will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon, as left handed rookie Jordan Montgomery will get the ball coming off one of his best starts of the year.

Winning Pitcher: Aroldis Chapman: (4-1, 3.03 ERA): 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K
Losing Pitcher: Brad Boxberger: (2-3, 4.82 ERA): 0.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 0 K

Brett Gardner: 1-5, RBI. Walk off single
Gary Sanchez: 2-4, HR (16), RBI
Chase Headley: 1-1, HR (5), 2 RBI
Matt Holliday: 2-4, R

Article by: Matt Luzzi


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