The last two weeks could not have gone much better for the Yankees. They had some incredible performances both on the mound and on the plate, losing just once in 12 games. Despite playing against a top-ranked team in the Twins, the competition wasn’t the toughest otherwise.
The Yankees face stiff competition in the coming weeks. There are three total series over the next two weeks against the teams who hunt them down in AL East, the Rays and Blue Jays, and another against the leader of AL West and old enemy Astros. This stretch started tonight and went pretty well for the most part.
Yankee’s pitching was hot Tuesday night and locked out the Rays. Gerrit Cole bounced back from a very poor start against the Twins and gave the Yankees six good, scoreless innings, allowing five hits and a walk while batting seven. The bullpen followed with three more, giving the Yankees a 2-0 win to begin their streak with Tampa Bay.
All of the run-scoring offense in the game happened in one game, with the Yankees hitting a few error-assisted runs in the fourth. With one down and Giancarlo Stanton first after a walk, it looked like Gleyber Torres would make second out of the inning when he put one in right field. Instead, Manuel Margot dropped the fly ball just within fair territory for Torres to reach and Stanton to go for second. That would be especially big if Matt Carpenter hit the next at bat. Instead of the inning being over, there were only two outs when Isiah Kiner-Falefa hit the plate. After falling 2-0 down and then fouling a few pitches, Kiner-Falefa dropped a single into left field.
Stanton scored and Randy Arozarena’s throw home was airmailed, allowing Torres to come by on a smart baserun as well.
Cole mostly crossed early, but he faced a potentially game-changing sequence in the sixth. Yandy Díaz started out with a single. At the next at-bat, Harold Ramirez landed against Cole, who was attempting to move into second place to start a double play. A combination of Cole’s throw and Torres catching the ball despite it probably not being his game seemed to pull it out of the pocket, resulting in both runners being safe. The Yankees verified, and somewhat controversially, the call was canceled and Díaz was called to a force.
Despite the new life, the Yankees couldn’t quite capitalize, and Margot and Ji-Man Choi were both singles to load the bases. However, Cole then introduced a ground ball as the infield turned two, with the throw only beating Arozarena for the first time.
Cole’s day would be over after the sixth when Wandy Peralta walked in to start the seventh. The left-hander got two outs (one on a nice piece by IKF) on either side of an Isaac Paredes before manager Aaron Boone returned to the bullpen and brought in Michael King. After a 3-1 count and a pass ball that put the runner in goal position, King got a fly out to end the inning. He came back for the eighth time and worked around a walk to throw another scoreless inning.
Clay Holmes was called up for the ninth inning and quickly got two outs and a 0-2 count for the third batter. After Brett Phillips singled to keep the Rays alive, Francisco Mejía hit one to deep left center. It took a nice run catch from Aaron Judge, but he tracked it down for the third out and sealed the win.
Aside from perhaps the offense capitalizing on a few more runs, there’s not much more one could ask for to start this difficult stretch for the Yankees. They are now 45-16 going into a bowlers duel tomorrow night: Nestor Cortes vs. Shane McClanahan. Tune in for the first pitch at 7:05 p.m. ET.