The New York Yankees got back to .500 baseball today with their game two win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Today's game was a battle of young lefties, Jordon Montgomery for the Yankees and Blake Snell for the Rays. Montgomery was making his Major League debut and was doing so while the Yankees rookie catcher Kyle Higashioka was playing in his second big league game, something that hasn't happened in the Bronx since 1947. And with both starters making it only through 4.2 innings this afternoon, the battle of the bullpens opened the door for the Yankees to seal their first series victory of 2017.
Montgomery quickly received a full introduction to what life is like in the show. After recording his first two Major League strikeouts to begin the game, the lefty walked his first big league batter, Evan Longoria. And then he served up his first Show homer to the well-traveled veteran Ricky Weeks Jr., who blasted a Montgomery fastball over the left-field wall to give the Rays an early two-run lead.
Both lefties cruised through the first four frames, but both guys struggled and departed in the fifth inning. Montgomery started the fifth by giving up a double to Steve Souza Jr.. After striking out the next two batters, Montgomery was lifted for the right-handed Brian Mitchell to face the right-handed Weeks. And the journeyman came through again for Tampa, but in not-so-glorious fashion as the longball: Weeks hit a ground ball to second where it shot off Starlin Castro's glove and into right field, scoring Souza to push their lead out to three. Despite the early departure, Montgomery looked solid in his MLB debut; leaving with a final line of 4.2 innings pitched, allowing three runs(two earned) on five hits while walking two and striking out seven. If he can get control of his offspeed stuff consistently, this kid has a real bright future in the show.
Contrastly, Blake Snell had yet to allow a run and began the fifth by giving up the second Yankees hit, a leadoff single to Chase Headley. After walking Aaron Judge, rookie Kyle Higashioka loaded the bases when he reached base on a fielding error by shortstop Tim Beckham. After Pete Kozma and Jacoby Ellsbury both failed with back to back pop outs, Aaron Hicks drew a walk to score Headley from third to make it a 3-1 game. Snell was taken out for Jumbo Diaz, who promptly chucked a wild pitch during Matt Holliday's at-bat that scored Judge from third to close the gap at 3-2.
The Bombers completed their comeback mission and took the lead in the bottom of the sixth. Castro started the frame with a sharp infield single, advancing to second on a Headley single to right. A third consecutive single, this one was a missile by Judge that buzzed by the ear of reliever Jumbo Diaz, brought in Castro from second to pull the Yankees even at three apiece. Trying to advance the runners up a base; Higashioka bunted to third baseman Evan Longoria, who recorded the put out of Judge at second, allowing Headley to advance to third and Higashioka to reach first. In a pinch hit at bat; Brett Gardner lined a comebacker to Diaz, who misfired it to first base where Gardner and Weeks violently collided, allowing Headley to score from third to give the Yanks their first lead at 4-3. The result of the collision left Gardner being pinch ran for by Ronald Torreyes and Ricky Weeks Jr. being replaced by Logan Morrison. Ellsbury then smacked a single into centerfield, scoring Higashioka and moving Torreyes to third, 5-3. And the fourth and final run of the inning was scored when Aaron Hicks grounded out to third, allowing Torreyes to score to push their lead out to three.
Aaron Judge stayed white-hot by blasting his third homerun in as many games, a seventh inning 437-ft bomb to centerfield that scored Chris Carter to widen New York's lead to five at 8-3.
Though Tommy Layne gave up an RBI double to Corey Dickerson in the top of the eighth to make it 8-4, a combination of Jonathan Holder and Aroldis Chapman came on in the ninth to shut the door on any Tampa hopes of a comeback and locked down the first Yankees series win of the 2017 season.
The Yankees will look to complete the three-game sweep of the Rays tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled for 7:05 PM/EST.