Yankees beat Rays 4-3 thanks to home runs by Judge and Higashioka

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A bizarre eighth-inning umpire delay marred what was otherwise a sweet victory for the Bombers.

Even with exactly 100 games left to play before a playoff run that they hope will result during their first World Series win in 13 years, the Yankees sense a special season.

With a 4-3 win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, they set a new record for the most wins in a row in the new Yankee Stadium, extending their streak to 13. Aaron Judge hit his 25th home run of the season, and No. 9 batter Kyle Higashioka accompanied an intentional walk with a 3 blast that extended the lead to four runs.

Nestor Cortes (6-2) defeated Shane McClanahan (7-3) in a battle of sub-2.00 ERA starters, and Clay Holmes tied Mariano Rivera’s season record of 28 successive scoreless appearances while lowering his ERA to 0.29.

The major league-leading Yankees have won six straight games and 13 of their last 14. New York’s 46-16 record after 62 games is the best after 62 games since 1998, and its unbeaten run is the longest since the old ballpark’s 13-game winning streak from June 2 to July 1, 1973.

With the Yankees leading 4-1, the game was halted for nearly 17 minutes in the top of the eighth due to a disagreement more than a pitching change after Randy Arozarena was strikes by Miguel Castro’s pitch. While a Rays instructor attended to Arozarena, pitching coach Matt Blake came to the mound. Ji-Man Choi batted in place of Isaac Paredes, and Boone arrived out to bring in lefty Lucas Luetge.

Crew chief Phil Cuzzi said he checked with the commissioner’s office’s replay room to ensure Blake ended up going to the mound before Choi was indicated in — just one trip per batter is permitted.

Choi and René Pinto’s run-scoring singles closed the gap to one run. Luetge struck out Brett Phillips on an inning-ending flyout, and Holmes maintained his perfect record in 11 save chances, getting two outs on grounders and a strikeout.

When Aroldis Chapman returns from the injured list, Boone said he will use Holmes in high-leverage situations.

In the AL East, New York leads 2nd Toronto by nine games and has moved 11 games ahead of the Rays, who’ve already lost four of five.

Cortes struck out 18 of 22 batters and reduced his ERA to 1.94 in 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run and three hits. He left after Higashioka’s throw back to the mound clipped off both his glove and his head.

McClanahan, who had won six consecutive decisions, allowed four runs and three hits in six innings, but only one was earned, and his 1.84 ERA remained second in the AL. Tampa Bay has surrendered 43 unearned runs, trailing only the Chicago White Sox (44).

Judge’s 6th homer in eight matches, a reverse drive into the right field short porch off a curveball, put the Yankees ahead in the first. In any of the other 29 ballparks, the ball would not have been a solo homer.

Josh Donaldson led off the fifth inning with a fly to center that Phillips, who had taken over for Kevin Kiermaier, dropped for a two-base error. Phillips took his gaze away from the ball to avoid colliding with Manuel Margot in right-center.

McClanahan fell behind Isiah Kiner-Falefa 3-0 with two outs and a runner on third, then intentionally walked him. Higashioka hit his 3rd home run in six plate appearances, hitting a 97 mph fastball just beyond the left field foul pole after striking none in his first 100.

Standing off third base, Donaldson attempted to wave the ball fair and brought up both arms in the way of Carlton Fisk in the 1975 World Series.


RHP Luis Severino (4-1, 2.80 ERA) makes his 100th career start in Thursday night’s series finale. LHP Jalen Beeks (1-1, 1.38) will be Tampa Bay’s opener.

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