First series win in New York since 2014
If the Tampa Bay Rays indeed want to be contenders as soon as 2019, they need to be able to defeat the two juggernaut organizations in their own division. On Thursday afternoon, the Rays proved they can compete with the New York Yankees with a 3-1 win over New York that gave Tampa Bay the three game series.
Blake Snell pitched five innings of two-hit ball, and Adam Kolarek pitched the Tampa Bay Rays out of a bases loaded jam in the ninth inning to take a 3-1 victory over the New York Yankees on Thursday afternoon. The win resulted in their first series win on the road against the Yankees since September of 2014.
Snell, in just his second start back from a short disabled list stint due to left shoulder fatigue, looked like an ace once again over his five innings of work. The lefty threw 76 pitches, striking out six Yankees in the process.
Tampa Bay got started quickly, scoring twice in the top of the first. Joey Wendle doubled home Mallex Smith, and Tommy Pham doubled Wendle in to make the score 2-0 before the Yankees ever came to the plate. Tampa Bay would add another run in the eighth on a sacrifice fly by Jake Bauers.
Other than the first inning, Yankees starter Masahiro Tanaka was in fine form on Thursday. Tanaka threw six innings, not allowing another run after the first and keeping the Yankees in a position to potentially come back. Giancarlo Stanton doubled in Aaron Hicks in the eighth inning, but it was all New York would get.
The Yankees threatened late, loading the bases in the bottom of the ninth inning with nobody out. Sergio Romo, who recorded the last out of the eighth, was pulled after loading the bases. Adam Kolarek inherited three runners and needed to collect all three outs with the tying run in scoring position. Kolarek got Greg Bird to foul out in front of the visting dugout, and struck out Brett Gardner and Austin Romine to finish off the game. It may have been the toughest save recorded by the Rays all season.
Things don’t get any easier for the last leg of Tampa Bay’s AL East road trip. From the Bronx, the Rays head to Boston to take on the league-best Boston Red Sox over the weekend. Boston’s 86-36 record has them 10.5 games clear of the Yankees, who have the majors’ second-best record.
The Rays will face a familiar foe Saturday in David Price, longtime member of the organization before being traded to Detroit. His reputation in Boston is mixed to say the least, but his 12-6 record suggests that he’s at bare minimum producing enough for the prolific Boston offense.