PHEW. Judge Hits 53rd. Holmes Escapes. NY 2 Tampa 1

Tampa had 2nd and 3rd, 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, and 3-2 pitch to their hottest hitter, Yandy Diaz. HIGH TENSION — a single and Tampa walks it off and sweeps the series, sending Yanks to yet another loss.

Meanwhile Clay Holmes seemingly had nothing (although he said afterwards his sinker felt good) — the inning so far: double, lineout, single for a run, lineout, double.

Holmes threw a 101-MPH sinker that just nabbed the bottom of the strike zone for strike 3 — and Rickie Ricardo on the radio screamed “STRIKE 3, HE STRUCK HIM OUT! HE STRUCK HIM OUT! HE STRUCK HIM OUT” as the Yanks and Yankee Twitter jubilated.

The Michael Kay call:

One big collective PHEW all around.

Earlier, Aaron Judge hit his 53rd homer on the 2nd pitch of the ballgame, and then in the 7th, doubled and used his speed to dive into 3rd on a fielder’s choice to set up the Yankees only other run on an Oswaldo Cabrera sac fly. Judge had 3 of the Yankee 6 hits on the day.

Frankie Montas pitched 5 spectacular, shutout innings. And the Yankee bullpen — especially Lou Trivino and Jonathan Loaisiga — held court.

“Look — what we’re going through — to get a big win, tough win, on the road against a team that we’re fighting with and competing for this thing with, is huge at this time of year,” said manager Aaron Boone afterwards, who was ejected in the 5th inning for arguing a catcher’s interference call.

On a Sunday afternoon in Tampa; a sold-out stadium with mostly Yankee fans chanting “Let’s Go Yankees!” loudly at pressure points in the game.

NY — now 80-54 — moves back to 5 games over Tampa, and remain 6 over Toronto, and 8.5 over Baltimore.

1. Judge Hits 53rd

The game had just started when Aaron Judge — batting leadoff again — hit the 2nd pitch of the game from Ryan Yarbrough into the left-field seats for his 53rd homer of the year. On pace for 63 coming into the game.

2. Montas Spectacular

Frankie Montas — with the pressure on — turned in his best performance as a Yank. He was everything the Yankees had hoped they’d traded for — an ace-like starter.

He struck out the side in the 2nd inning en route to 5 shutout, 1-hit innings, 7 K’s, 0 walks.

3. Trivino Tremendous

Lou Trivino also made Brian Cashman look good. Also acquired at the trade deadline, the former closer pitched to the heart of the Rays order in the 6th and shut them out: a single to Yandy Diaz, but then strikeout of Ji-Man Choi, strikeout of Manuel Margot, and fly out for Randy Arozarena.

4. Judge Double Gets Yanks Insurance

Judge led off the 7th with a double to right. DJ LeMahieu hit a grounder and the throw was to 3rd to try and catch Judge who sprinted there and with a head-first-slide DOVE in just beating the throw. “He does everything,” exclaimed Suzyn Waldman on the radio. Judge then scored on a sac fly by Oswaldo Cabrera. NY 2 Tampa 0. A HUGE insurance run.

Judge had 3 of the Yankees’ 6 hits and became the 1st player since Babe Ruth in 1929 to score all the runs for the Yankees in a 3-game series (Judge scored the only Yankee run on Saturday with his 52nd homer).

5. PHEW in the 7th. NY Survives 3-Batter Rule

Ron Marinaccio came in for the 7th and it was immediate trouble — but the Yanks could not take him out due to the new rule that a reliever must face 3 batters. The day before, Marinaccio had faced 3 batters and it was single, walk, single.

In this one, it was double, walk, and then after a visit to the mound by the pitching coach — line out by Christian Bethancourt to center.

Jonathan Loaisiga came in and struck out Taylor Walls with high heat, but walked the hard-hitting Jonathan Aranda after getting ahead 1-2. It loaded the bases and put the Yankees on the brink with Yandy Diaz up.

But Diaz hit a 1-1 pitch to short where Isiah Kiner-Falefa took it himself to 2nd base for the final out. PHEW.

6. Loaisiga Terrific

After that Loasiga pithed a 1-2-3 inning in the 8th to the heart of the Rays order — groundout, strikeout, fly out (of Choi, Margot, and Arozarena).

5. That Pressure-Packed 9th Inning

To the 9th and Clay Holmes — who had been looking good since his return from injury but not this game. Double, lineout to right, single, and then a line drive to center that Estevan Florial made an excellent catch on — using his speed and a great jump to get to the ball.

Then a double to Aranda to bring up Yandy Diaz with 2nd and 3rd and the Yankee season on the line. But Holmes reared back and nabbed the bottom of the strike zone on a 3-2 pitch with a 101-MPH sinker for the old ballgame — as Rickie Ricardo screamed “STRIKE 3 HE STRUCK HIM OUT! HE STRUCK HIM OUT! HE STRUCK HIM OUT!” on the radio.

Some thought the pitch was too low — and Diaz complained furiously to the umpire. The Tampa Bays twitter account tweeted their agreement with Diaz. But Yankee fans like @rangersplswin and @lucasluetgeRBW pointed out that the Baseball SAVANT Stat Cast had it as a strike.

“I thought it was a great pitch,” said Holmes afterwards. “Trevi called it well. Feels good to get the sinker down. I’m not sure where it was at but I’m glad we got the call there.”

“I said I’m just gonna let it rip,” said Holmes about his 101-MPH sinker. “If he’s gonna beat me he’s gonna beat me on my best bullet. It felt really good. The sinker felt really good all day today. The lefties just put some good swings on some sinkers today.”


  • After the game it was revealed Andrew Benintendi broke the hook of his hamate bone on the swing he took Friday night, and will need surgery. Benintendi said he would meet with doctors in NY — and feels he’ll eventually need surgery, but has had this injury before in college and hopes to be back before the playoffs. Right now there is pain and “it’s not something I can play through.”

The Boxscore

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