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Bullpen Day Thrives, Yanks top Rays 4-1

Entering the last week of the regular season the Yankees opened a four-game set Monday night in the always dreaded trip to face the Tampa Bay Rays. The Yankees came into tonight sitting one and a half games (two in the loss column) above the Oakland A’s for home field advantage in the AL Wild Card game. Aaron Boone decided to go with a “bullpen day” tonight instead of giving the ball to a typical starter.

Bombers continued scalding hot streak scorching the Twins 8-3

After a thrashing of the Twins Monday night, the Bombers looked poised to continue their three-game winning streak in this homestand. CC Sabathia took the mound to face Jose Berrios and the Minnesota Twins in the second round of their four-game series. After a short stumble by Sabathia in the first inning, the Yankees scored a run or more in four straight innings to retake the lead, and never looked back. Didi Gregorius continued his impressive start, recording his seventh home run of the year and added three more RBIs to his season total. Gleyber Torres recorded his first RBI as well, and Gary Sanchez launched his fourth and fifth home runs of the year as well. The Yanks seem like they are starting to finally click, a great sign for the Bronx faithful.

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The Yankees found themselves down early after Aaron Judge misplayed Eduardo Escobar’s two-out RBI double off the wall in the top of the first. After a quick pair of one, two, three innings by both teams pitchers, Sanchez continued to get hot, belting a shot to right field to tie the game at 1-1 in the second inning. CC was his usual economical self during this game, working at a 16 pitch per inning clip through the first three frames despite the early run. 


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The offense looked poised to strike again in the third inning after a one-out walk by Brett Gardner brought up the meat of the Yankee order starting with Judge. The towering right fielder did his job, sending a rocket off the left field wall to put two runners in scoring position for the red-hot shortstop Didi. The lefty rose to the occasion, fighting off an inside fastball to left field for an RBI single to give the Bombers their first lead of the game. After another miserable Stanton strikeout, Sanchez was ready to pounce again but grounded out to short to end the inning.

CC had another quick inning in the top of the fourth, punctuated by a great throw by Sanchez and tag by Torres to catch Escobar attempting to steal second. It may have only been a one-run game, but the Bombers seemed to have momentum on their side, CC was cruising, the offense was starting to roll again, and Berrios looked like he was beginning to crack early in this outing.

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This run continued into the bottom of the fourth, as the Yankees first two baserunners, Neil Walker and Miguel Andujar, reached on a dropped third strike an infield single to the catcher. Torres made the Twins pay, driving home Walker after a six-pitch at-bat for his first RBI of his career to extend the Yankee lead. Gardner grounded into a double play to end the inning, leaving two men on base.

Despite an ugly error by Walker at first, Sabathia continued his brisk pace, averaging only 15 pitches per inning through five innings. It’s no secret that the Yankees have had a few of issues in the bullpen early this season between injuries and inexplicable blunders, so a lengthy outing by the big lefty was much appreciated.

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After an Aaron Judge's hard single through the shift, Didi continued his MVP caliber start to the season (yes, MVP), with a towering shot into the second deck in left field for a two-run home run. Berrios wouldn’t have a chance to see the next batter, leaving the game after just four innings, giving up five runs to give the Bombers a 5-1 lead. Righty Ryan Pressley came in for the relief of  Berrios, hoping to stop the bleeding, he was able to work three straight strikeouts of Stanton, Sanchez, and Aaron Hicks to do just that.

CC again breezed through the sixth inning, three up and three down to finish the night with 81 pitches, ending another excellent outing for the veteran starter. Torres also continued his great night with another impressive at-bat to record his second hit of the night and his first career multi-hit game. 

Delin Betances came in to start the seventh, walking the first batter he faced and tossed the ball over the head of Walker on a pickoff attempt right after. The reliever was having one of those wild nights, where he couldn’t hit the strike zone early, but looked like he was starting to battle back. Escobar would end up scoring on an error by Torres who missed the throw by Sanchez on a good throw to first, to allow the runner to score. This mop-up situation for Betances was quickly becoming a nail-biter instead. After a walking Logan Morrison, Aaron Boone had seen enough, bringing in David Robertson to stop this game from slipping out of control. The righty Roberston was able to pick up his teammate, retiring the next two batters to end the inning, preserving a 5-2 lead.

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With the lead starting to shrink, Aaron Judge decided he wanted to join the dinger barrage, catapulting an opposite-field blast to extend the lead back to four. After a single by Didi and a fielders choice by Stanton, the Kraken launched his own no-doubter into Monument Park for a two-run home run, to extend the lead once again. Sanchez' home run in the seventh inning made history once again, as the catcher is the first player in MLB history to record nine multi-home run games in his first 196 outings.


Chasen Shreve came in to start the eighth, surrendering one run off another RBI double by Escobar to cut the lead to five heading into the last at-bats for New York. After a short bottom of the eighth, Johnathan Holder made his fifth appearance of the year to get the final three outs of the game to secure the win.

The Bombers had a mediocre start to the season, and many thought the hole they dug themselves in was too large to overcome, but the narratives have changed. The Yanks are on a four-game winning streak and look like they’re starting to get into a groove. The New York stars are getting hot, Didi and Judge look even better than last year, Torres and Andujar are beginning to warm up to the major leagues. Even Gary and Stanton seem like their putting the pieces together to go on a run for themselves. If the Yankees offense can put it together and get decent production from their starting pitching and bullpen, the MLB better be on watch. 

CC continued to show why he deserved that contract from Brian Cashman, slicing and dicing through the Twins lineup. With all the questions surrounding the Bronx pitching staff, having a stable veteran like Sabathia is a great safety net to have in the middle of the rotation. 

Winning Pitcher: CC Sabathia 6.0 IP, 2 H, R, BB, 4 K (1-0 2.70 ERA)
Losing Pitcher: Jose Berrios: 4.0 IP 6 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 2 HR (2.84 ERA)

Notables:
Didi Gregorius: 3-4, 3 RBI (27), R, HR (8)
Gary Sanchez: 2-4, 3 RBI (18), 2 R, 2 HR (5) 
Aaron Judge: 3-5, RBI (16), 2 R, HR (7)
Gleyber Torres: 2-4, RBI (1)

The Yankees look to secure another series win tomorrow in the Bronx as Sonny Gray (1-1 8.27 ERA) hopes to get back on track against newly acquired Lance Lynn (0-1 6.00 ERA) in a 6:35 pm start on YES Network.

Article by: Maxx Hotton

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