Yankees 4, Rays 5: Isaac Paredes’ career night lifts Tampa to a tie in the series

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The Yankees displayed the same tenacity that this team does on many nights when things aren’t going well. This time, however, the Rays were able to hold on for a 5-4 victory thanks to a three-homer game from infielder Isaac Paredes and a collective effort from the bullpen.

Going to the ballpark and seeing something you’ve never seen before is an old baseball adage. Tonight’s game delivered on that front, and it didn’t take long.

In a game that the slumping Rays desperately needed after going 2-8 in their previous ten, the Tampa offense jumped on Nestor Cortes early with a pair of solo homers by Paredes and Harold Ramrez — the latter of which had some very interesting characteristics.

The dimensions of right field at Yankee Stadium and even Fenway Park get a lot of attention, but left field at the Trop also provides hitters with a relatively short path for a long ball. The ball had an exit velocity of 85.4 MPH when Ramrez managed to pull one just around the foul pole for a solo shot. It was the softest-hit long ball recorded in the Statcast Era, excluding inside-the-park home runs (since 2015). The expected batting average for the batted-ball event was.030.

With a 2-0 lead early on and understanding the significance of the game for his team, Rays manager Kevin Cash handled the game like a true playoff game. Jalen Beeks, the starter, spent the majority of his time on the mound pitching through traffic.

Beeks got out of a two-on, two-out jam in the first, but Kyle Higashioka and Marwin Gonzalez both reached with singles and doubles in the second. Cash made the managerial decision after leaving Beeks in to face No. 9 hitter Gallo while pushing his pitch count limit, but also pulling the infield in to prevent a run.

Gallo would later strike out looking on a 3-2 fastball down and away, but DJ LeMahieu drove both runners in anyway with a single up the middle off Shawn Armstrong. The new reliever had just come in with two outs as the top of the order was about to come up. The Yankees had effectively tied the game.

Cortes managed to keep the Yankees in the game despite not having his best stuff. Normally, when a pitcher allows three home runs, the bases are empty, but the Rays took Cortes deep each time.

Paredes hit two of those home runs and came up with a runner on in the top of the fifth inning. Despite the fact that Cortes had only thrown 63 pitches, Yankees manager Aaron Boone didn’t hesitate in bringing in Clarke Schmidt, and the Yankees, like the Rays, were burned after their first pitching change. It didn’t help that Schmidt’s first pitch was an absolute cookie.

Isaac Paredes was not going to be denied tonight, especially with such an easy offering. The Rays’ lead increased to 5-2 after the first baseman completed his hat trick. After Schmidt’s fifth, Ron Marinaccio and Lucas Luetge combined for three perfect innings, but the Rays held on to their lead.

After LeMahieu’s two-run single in the top of the second, the Tampa bullpen kept things quiet until the top of the eighth. Brooks Raley entered the game for a second inning and struggled to find the strike zone, walking the aforementioned LeMahieu and Donaldson to start the frame — the last thing any pitcher wants to do with a three-run lead.

Cash was already present. Jason Adam warmed up, but Raley was left in to face pinch-hitter Anthony Rizzo, who ended up flying out. Despite the Yankees’ DH’s recent struggles, Adam hit a bullet at 111.4 MPH, but Taylor Walls made the defensive play of the game by ranging to his right.

The double play was called because the ball was hit so hard. The Rays escaped the inning unscathed.

In a season where the word “quit” appears to be absent from the Yankees‘ vocabulary, the team managed to keep things interesting in the ninth inning. With two outs and a runner on, the Yankees’ left fielder took Colin Poche deep for a two-run home run.

As the tying run, Aaron Judge could pinch-hit for Gallo.

Judge collided with one and nearly hit it out to the same spot as Gonzalez’s bomb, but the MVP candidate couldn’t get enough on it, and the ball died near the track. Nobody needs to listen about moral victories, but it’s difficult to feel good about a team than any Yankees fan can after this loss. They’re still a 50-18 team.

Jordan Montgomery will face Shane Baz in the opener tomorrow night. It’s the series finale, and the first pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. ET.

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