Given it was the opening weekend for the NFL, I guess it was appropriate for the Yankees to win using a football score. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez both homered twice to power the Yankees to the series-clinching win over the Texas Rangers.
The Yankees didn’t waste any time getting on the board. With two outs in the bottom of the 1st inning, Gary Sanchez hit a long home run to left center, a solo shot that traveled 412 feet, off Rangers starter A.J. Griffin for the early 1-0 lead. It was El Gary’s 29th homer of the year.
Credit: Larry W Smith-EPA
The Rangers got the run back in the bottom of the 2nd when catcher Robinson Chirinos took Jordan Montgomery deep with a solo shot of his own to the right field bleachers.
Brett Gardner led off the top of the 3rd with a single to left past a diving Joey Gallo. After Chase Headley flied out to center for the first out, Gary Sanchez was hit by a pitch on the back of his shoulder to put runners at first and second. A double to the wall in right by Didi Gregorius scored Gardner with the go-ahead run, while Sanchez moved to third. Starlin Castro reached base when he hit into a fielder’s choice at third. Third baseman Joey Gallo made the decision to try and tag Sanchez who started toward home but turned back. Sanchez beat Gallo back to third so all runners were safe. Aaron Judge followed with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Sanchez. It was 3-1 Yankees.
With A.J. Griffin still on the mound for the Rangers, Jacoby Ellsbury was hit by a pitch leading off the top of the 4th. Austin Romine lined a single to left, moving Ellsbury to second. That was all for Griffin as the Rangers brought in reliever Nick Martinez. Brett Gardner greeted Martinez with a triple to the center field wall which scored Ellsbury and Romine. Chase Headley’s single to center through the drawn-in infield scored Gardy. Gary Sanchez doubled down the left field line, advancing Headley to third. Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring Headley. Sanchez moved to third. Starlin Castro hit into a double play at short, with the Rangers recording the outs at second and first but Sanchez scored. Aaron Judge was next up to take swings against the Yankees-friendly Martinez. He blasted a solo home run to center, his 40th of the year. It was 9-1 Yankees and the end of Martinez’s enjoyable stay. Texas brought in reliever Yohander Mendez to replace Martinez and he retired Greg Bird on a pop out in foul territory to end the inning.
In the bottom of the 4th, Jordan Montgomery walked the first two batters he faced (Robinson Chirinos and Joey Gallo). After striking out Rougned Odor, Montgomery gave up a run-scoring double to left over the head of Brett Gardner by Ryan Rua. Gallo moved to third. Monty was removed at that point, failing to get the additional two outs he needed to qualify for the win. Chad Green came in and surrendered a sacrifice fly to center by Delino DeShields which scored Gallo to make it 9-3. Green then struck out Shin-Soo Choo to end the inning, leaving Rua stranded at third.
The Yankees added to their lead in the 5th. Doubles to right by both Jacoby Ellsbury and Austin Romine had runners at second and third. After Brett Gardner grounded out to first, Chase Headley hit a grounder to third but the ball bounced off Joey Gallo’s glove. Shortstop Elvis Andrus got to the ball but he became distracted with Jacoby Ellsbury at third and had no play. The bases were loaded. Gary Sanchez flied out to right field in foul territory for the second out. Didi Gregorius singled to right, scoring both Ellsbury and Romine, but he was caught off first base by the throw from the outfield for the final out. The Yankees had increased their lead to 11-3.
Credit the Texas Rangers for refusing to roll over. They led off the bottom of the 5th with a double to center by Elvis Andrus. Mike Napoli’s single to left scored Andrus to make it 11-4. Green retired the next three batters to move the game to the top of the 6th.
After Starlin Castro grounded out to start the 6th, Aaron Judge blasted a long home run to left center that traveled 463 feet for his second HR of the game and 41st of the year. 12-4, Yankees.
Credit: Larry W Smith-EPA
Gary Sanchez led off the top of the 8th with his second long home run of the game. The shot to center off Rangers pitcher Tyson Ross, which fell two feet short of Judge’s last blast, was El Gary’s 30th of the year and it increased the Yankee lead to 13-4.
Dellin Betances took over for Tommy Kahnle to start the bottom of the 8th. Kahnle had relieved Green with two outs in the bottom of the 6th and had kept the Rangers off the board. Betances was not so lucky. He started off right by striking out Drew Robinson but then proceeded to walk Ryan Rua and Delino Deshields. Shin-Soo Choo took advantage of Dellin’s control problems by hitting a two-run double to right center to make it 13-6. It must have served as a wakeup call for Betances as he struck out the next two batters to end the inning.
On to the 9th. Tyson Ross was still on the mound for the Rangers and he walked Jacoby Ellsbury to get things started. Austin Romine singled to left, with Ellsbury moving to second. Tyler Wade singled to center to score Ellsbury. 14-6, Yankees, with Romine moving to third. Up to the plate strolled Erik Kratz, pinch-hitting for Gary Sanchez and making his first official at-bat for the Yankees. His double to deep left center scored both Romine and Wade to make it a 16-6 game. Welcome to the Pinstripes, Mr Kratz! That hit may have earned you a free, all-expenses paid trip to New York City.
The bottom the 9th brought out Caleb Smith to relieve Betances. Smith retired the first two hitters on pop outs, but then he walked Brett Nicholas, who had the only Rangers hit in Saturday’s game against Luis Severino. Drew Robinson hit a long fly ball to deep left that fell in against the wall to score Nicholas to make it 16-7. Smith recovered and struck out Ryan Rua to end the game. The Yankees win!
Credit: Richard Rodriguez-Getty Images
The Yankees (77-65) pulled back to 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox with the win. Boston lost to the Tampa Bay Rays, 4-1. The Baltimore Orioles trail the Yankees by 6 1/2 games after falling to the Cleveland Indians, 3-2. It was Cleveland’s 18th consecutive win. The Rays trail the Yankees by 7 games. The Yankees also increased their Wild Card lead over the Minnesota Twins to 3 1/2 games. The Twins were defeated 11-3 by the Kansas City Royals on Sunday. The Los Angeles Angels are a game behind the Twins following their 5-3 win over the Seattle Mariners.
Chad Green (4-0) picked up the win in relief of Jordan Montgomery.
Aaron Judge is only the second rookie in MLB history with at least 40 home runs. Mark McGwire holds the record with 49 in 1987. Judge also set the MLB record for most walks by a rookie when he walked for the 107th time in the 2nd inning. Didi Gregorius tied a career high with four hits, and same with Gary Sanchez in scoring four runs. The Yankees had 18 hits in total, ten of which were for extra bases.
Next Up: Tampa Bay Rays at Citi Field, Flushing Meadow (Queens), New York…
First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with all affected by Hurricane Irma. It must be very tough for the Rays to be on the road while friends and family are dealing with the impact of the hurricane in Florida. It’s unfortunate that the Rays are unable to play this series on their home turf and we wish them and their families the very best as they deal with the aftermath of the disaster.
For the games on the field, here are the scheduled pitching match-ups:
Yankees: CC Sabathia (11-5, 3.91 ERA)
Rays: Jake Odorizzi (8-7, 4.58 ERA)
Yankees: Sonny Gray (9-9, 3.22 ERA)
Rays: Blake Snell (3-6, 4.36 ERA)
Yankees: Jaime Garcia (1-2, 4.88 ERA)
Rays: Chris Archer (9-9, 4.00 ERA)
Wednesday’s game looks to be a bit of a mismatch so hopefully the Yankees can take at least the first two games.
Odds & Ends...
Congratulations to the Triple A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders! They won their best-of-five International League Division Series against the Lehigh Valley IronPigs (Phillies) with a 1-0 victory on Sunday. Nestor Cortes got the win with seven strong innings. He held the IronPigs to five hits and no runs. He walked a batter and struck out eight. Nick Rumbelow worked out of trouble in the 9th after two singles to record the save. He struck out Dylan Cozens to end the game and preserve the shutout win. The RailRiders scored their only run in the 7th inning on a home run by Mike Ford.
The RailRiders will advance to the best-of-five Governor’s Cup Finals to play the Durham Bulls (Rays). The series begins Tuesday at Durham Bulls Athletic Park in Durham, NC.
The Yankees activated 1B Garrett Cooper from the DL and optioned him to the RailRiders. He had been on a rehab assignment with the Trenton Thunder. The Yankees are also expected to activate OF Clint Frazier sometime this week. He has also been on a rehab assignment with Trenton. The Thunder will begin play in the Eastern League Championship Series on Tuesday.
Have a great Monday! The Yanks may still be on the road but they are back in NYC! Go Yankees!