Yankees’ bottom fights back, delivers counter-punch turning tables on defiant Rays

Aaron Judge and Anthony Volpe shake hand after the latter's RBI gave the Yankees a lead over the Rays at Tropicana on May 12, 2024.
Michael Bennington
Monday May 13, 2024

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In a thrilling afternoon showdown, the Yankees’ victory over the Rays at Tropicana Field was propelled by the remarkable performance of their lower-order batters. While Aaron Judge contributed with a two-run homer, the Yankees’ offensive barrage was highlighted by five home runs, including two from Jose Trevino, a career-first for Jahmai Jones, and a crucial blast from the struggling Gleyber Torres, securing a 10-6 win.

Despite the bullpen’s uncharacteristic meltdown in the late innings, which nearly squandered a 6-0 lead, the Yankees’ resilience shone through. Luis Gil’s six scoreless innings were overshadowed by the combined efforts of Caleb Ferguson, Nick Burdi, and Luke Weaver, who allowed the Rays to narrow the gap to a single run in the bottom of the seventh.

However, Torres’ timely three-run homer in the eighth inning provided a much-needed cushion for the Yankees and a personal sigh of relief for the second baseman. After falling behind 0-2 in the count, Torres battled through a tough at-bat before launching his second home run of the season, extending the lead to 9-5 and ensuring a hard-fought victory for the Yankees (27-15).

“That was a big, big blow to allow us to exhale a little bit after they pressured us,” manager Aaron Boone admitted. 

Yankees manager Aaron Boone underscored the significance of Torres’ eighth-inning home run, describing it as a pivotal moment that allowed the team to breathe easier after facing intense pressure from the Rays. The Yankees’ offensive onslaught continued as Jose Trevino followed suit with his second homer of the day, helping secure the rubber game against their AL East rivals (20-21) and clinch another series victory.

Yankees bottom keeps focused on ‘W’ word

Trevino, who is now batting .368 with a .972 OPS over his last 19 games, emphasized the importance of the team’s win above all else. His contributions, along with the rest of the lineup, provided ample support for starting pitcher Luis Gil, who delivered a stellar performance on the mound.

“At the end, the letter ‘W’ is what’s most important,” said Trevino, who hit two homers on Sunday.

Despite not having his best command early on, Gil tossed six shutout innings, allowing only three hits and two walks while striking out three batters. His recent success has been remarkable, surrendering just one run over his last 18 ¹/₃ innings and lowering his ERA to an impressive 2.51.

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AP

Trevino praised Gil’s aggressive approach, noting that the young pitcher consistently attacked every batter he faced, regardless of their status. He commended Gil’s unwavering determination to challenge hitters with each pitch, expressing his belief that the right-hander is excelling in this aspect of his game.

The Yankees wasted no time in providing Gil with early run support, as Anthony Volpe led off the game with a triple and subsequently scored on Juan Soto’s sacrifice fly. This offensive outburst set the tone for the rest of the game, ensuring that the Yankees maintained control throughout the contest.

In a remarkable display of offensive prowess, the Yankees’ lower half of the batting order stepped up to propel the team to victory. Jahmai Jones, making only his second start of the season, launched his first career home run in the third inning, a solo shot to left field that showcased his potential. Not to be outdone, Jose Trevino, batting eighth, crushed a two-run homer in the fourth inning, extending the Yankees’ lead to 4-0. The offensive onslaught continued as Aaron Judge, who had been swinging a hot bat, went the opposite way for a two-run shot in the fifth, putting the Yankees up 6-0.

However, the Rays mounted a fierce comeback in the seventh inning, starting with Caleb Ferguson’s struggles in relief of Luis Gil. Ferguson loaded the bases for Jose Siri, who capitalized on a 1-2 fastball by smashing a grand slam. Nick Burdi then entered the game, only to walk two batters and hit another, reloading the bases. Luke Weaver took over but hit Isaac Paredes on the helmet with a 3-2 pitch, forcing in a run and narrowing the gap to 6-5.

Weaver, however, regained his composure and retired the next two hitters, stemming the Rays’ rally just in time. With the game hanging in the balance, Gleyber Torres, who had been struggling with a .207 batting average and a .543 OPS, delivered a decisive three-run homer that sealed the victory for the Yankees.

Torres, reflecting on his crucial hit, mentioned that he was simply fighting to put the ball in play, hoping to generate a fly ball or any hit that would help score a run in that critical moment. He expressed immense satisfaction in contributing something meaningful to the team, especially when his teammates were in high spirits. Torres emphasized that the joy of his teammates made the moment even more special, highlighting the importance of his timely contribution to the Yankees’ success.

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