NEW YORK (AP) — Taylor Walls hit a tiebreaking grand slam in the fifth inning, Jose Siri caught Aaron Judge’s fly in front of the center-field wall for the final out and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the New York Yankees 8-7 on Sunday for a four-game series split.
Walls fell a double shy of the cycle after going 3 for 15 in his first five games against New York. Major league-leading Tampa Bay is 4-3 against the Yankees, with six of the games decided by one run. The teams don’t meet again until July 31.
“They were tough,” Walls said. “I feel like every time we got a lead, they would respond and either take it back or put some runs up and match whatever we did that inning before.”
Down 3-0, the Yankees went ahead in the third on two-run homers by Oswaldo Cabrera and Anthony Rizzo off Zach Elfin (5-1).
“Disappointing to not finish it off today, but I feel very pleased with where this group is at,” New York manager Aaron Boone said.
Randy Arozarena hit a tying sacrifice fly with the bases loaded in a five-run inning off Clarke Schmidt (1-4), with centerfielder Harrison Bader running 91 feet at a speed of 28.7 feet per second for a sprawling, backhand catch in front of the 399-foot sign that saved two runs.
Josh Lowe walked and Albert Abreu relieved. He threw four straight changeups to Walls, who hit the last into the first row of the right-center field seats near the Yankee bullpen for an 8-4 lead. Tampa Bay has four grand slams this season after hitting one for the second straight day.
“The last at-bat I saw against him, I think five out of the six pitches were sinkers that were 98, 99 (mph), so I had to respect it,” Walls said. “I think honestly just seeing that many pitches off-speed in a row, my eyes just kind of adjusted. I was just looking for a pitch up in the zone that I could handle, saw it and put a good swing on it.”
Walls’ slam highlighted his third three-hit game in 31 games this year. He had two such games in his first 196 career games.
“That was a big one,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “We lost the game yesterday with a grand slam in our favor. We didn’t want to lose another one.”
Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake was ejected by plate umpire Mike Muchlinski for arguing from the dugout after the home run.
Judge hit an RBI single in the seventh and rookie Anthony Volpe had a two-run homer in the eighth off Trevor Kelley, his sixth home run this season and third in five games.
Judge ended the game with a 399-foot flyout, giving Adam his fifth save. When Siri caught the ball, the reliever tapped a glove over his heart.
“I thought that was like 30 rows deep,” Adam said. “But thankfully he missed more than I thought.”
Judge hit the ball into a 10 mph wind.
“I hit it good but off the bat I hit it too high, especially you know how deep it is out there,” Judge said. “I’m kind of praying for a miracle once it got up there.”
Tampa Bay built its 3-0 lead on Brandon Lowe’s groundout in the first and sacrifice fly in the third along with Issac Paredes’ RBI single. Lowe’s groundout scored Yandy Díaz, who left with left groin tightness and will get an MRI on Monday’s off day.
Elfin allowed four runs and seven hits in six innings and struck out nine. He allowed both homers after taking a comebacker from Volpe off a thigh.
Schmidt, coming off his first career win as a starter, allowed a career-high seven runs and six hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Schmidt collided with Tampa Bay third base coach Brady Williams in the fourth. Walls hit a triple that Judge could not make a running catch on and when Schmidt raced over to back up the play, he bowled over Williams.
“No fault by anybody,” Cash said. “It looked like Schmidt was running and the umpire got out of the way and didn’t realize that Brady was standing right there. I’m glad both of them are ok. That was two big guys that collided pretty good.”
In the sixth, Siri collided with Volpe racing back to second base on Abreu’s pickoff toss.
Paredes was hit near the elbow in consecutive plate appearances in the sixth and eighth. The Rays have been hit seven times by the Yankees this season.
MINOR LEAGUE NO-HITTER
New York’s Class A Tampa Tarpons were no-hit by Fort Myers RHP Cory Lewis and three relievers. Lewis, who taught himself to throw a knuckleball at age 10, struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings.
Rays: RHP Pete Fairbanks (right forearm inflammation), who struck out two in a rehab appearance for Triple-A Durham Friday, is expected to be activated for Tuesday’s series opener at the Mets. Fairbanks has been on the injured list since May 3. … RHP Zack Littell was added to the active roster and RHP Javy Guerra was designated for assignment.
Yankees: LHP Carlos Rodón (strained left forearm) played catch for the second straight day and threw from a distance of 60 to 75 feet. He will increase his distance Monday, six days after an injection of a painkiller to his back. … RHP Luis Severino (right lat strain) could start next Sunday in Cincinnati if his rehab start on Tuesday goes well. … INF Oswald Peraza (sprained right ankle) began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre and went 1 for 4.
Rays: Face Justin Verlander (1-1, 2.25) on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game series at the Mets.
Yankees: Open a four-game series on Monday at Toronto and face Alek Manoah (1-3, 4.83).