The magic of baseball is that it can make your heart race any night, even when your favorite team is in the middle of one of the best years you’ve ever seen. The Yankees have already won their 50th game of 2022 on Monday night. It’s incredibly rare to see a team with 50 wins when Father’s Day was yesterday, and this team was strong enough to make most Ws a breeze, all things considered.
Monday night, however, offered none of the laid-back dominance and all the nail-biting and hyperventilation. Most of the drama came from Gerrit Cole, who took no-hitter deep for the second time this month, as the Yankees could field only a few runs against Shane McClanahan and the Rays bullpen. Then Cole lost his bid on a first single in the eighth by Isaac Paredes, and ace reliever Clay Holmes surprisingly gave up his first run since Opening Day as Tampa Bay tied it, 2-2.
It took Aaron Hicks’ ninth-inning drama to give the Yankees the lead they wouldn’t give up. And even with an insurance run, Wandy Peralta made it interesting after taking over from Holmes, as the Rays twice sent the game-winning run home. The southpaw dug in to get Hicks a strikeout and fly ball, securing the 4-2 victory and allowing thousands of Yankees fans to breathe a sigh of relief.
Cole flirted with perfection on June 3 against the Tigers and saw his bid shattered with two outs in the seventh. He wasn’t perfect this time around, but his no-hitter lasted even longer. Cole’s command was electric, as he masterfully located his particular fastball:
Cole could apparently place his pitches wherever he wanted tonight, with the only exception being the fifth inning. Steps to Brett Phillips and Josh Lowe put a two-out runner, and Cole blasted Rene Pinto with a K to finish the frame.
Outside of that brief lack of control, Cole turned absolute grime, going 12-7 innings without a hit. Although he’s only been with the Yankees 56 starts (about the equivalent of just under two full seasons), he’s fifth all time in double-figure batting games in franchise history with 16. His next will tie him with Al Downing for fourth place, just a few behind CC Sabathia.
Tasked with facing McClanahan for the second time in the space of a week, the Yankees tried early on to replicate the strategy of making their few hits count. On June 15, Aaron Judge homered in the first inning against the Yankees early, 1-0. This time, Anthony Rizzo took care of the opening honors, smashing a 2-2 pitch 410 feet from right field for his 19th long ball of the season:
The 2021 season hasn’t even been bad for Rizzo, but it still took him until September 9 to reach the 20 home run gate. In that remarkable year, he was clubbed No. 19 on June 20. Most fans had low expectations for the three-time All-Star who hasn’t played at this level in a few years, but he shattered them.
McClanahan quickly recovered and retired the next 11 Yankees in order. They threatened again in the fifth when they got back-to-back one-out singles from Josh Donaldson and Hicks, and the right-hander got himself into trouble by walking Jose Trevino to charge the bases. But the No. 9 batter was next, and although Marwin Gonzalez homered yesterday, McClanahan wasted no time on him as he got a double play on the first pitch on a sharp grounder on the third, putting end of the round.
In the seventh, McClanahan was offside for the Rays, but the Yankees were about to squander another golden opportunity. Gleyber Torres greeted reliever Ryan Thompson with a right double, and he stole the third without pitching. Donaldson and Hicks had helped create that scoring chance in the fifth, but this time they were the goats, as they pulled back-to-back shots to keep Torres anchored in the third.
That’s when the Yankees called on Trevino to create some of the magic that made their surprising All-Star caliber first half so special:
Did it take Ji-Man Choi a pitch from Vidal Bruján to create this run? Sure, but for Lindsey Adler above and anyone who followed the Yankees in 2022, it’s no shock at all to see Trevino be the one to get there with his hustle. The error made it 2-0, Yankees.
While all of this was going on, Cole had regained control of his potential unsuccessful offer. After that long fifth, he was at 86 pitches, but he quickly worked the Rays in the sixth and seventh to give himself a chance to go all the way. Tampa second baseman Paredes was uncooperative, however, as he started the eighth by lining up Cole’s 105th pitch in the middle for a clear round single. The no-no attempt was over, and after a scary 415-foot flight to the center of Josh Lowe, Cole was gone too. But what an effort it was:
With Aaron Boone looking set to stay away from Michael King for a second straight day after using him for 35 pitches on Saturday, he called on the dependable Holmes for a five-out save. The closer had made at least five outs in three previous outings in 2022, so it wasn’t a request that intimidated most Yankees fans. Of course, he hadn’t allowed a run to score on him since Opening Day (31.1 straight innings, tied for the third-longest streak in franchise history), but he didn’t. hadn’t even allowed a legacy runner to score since April 26.
The Rays are unfortunately a not easily intimidated team, and for the first time this year, Holmes lost his mind. The real damage came on a missile double from pinched hitter Francisco Mejía down the right-field line, shortly after Rizzo’s dive. Holmes got weak contact from the next two batters, but sometimes that’s all it takes. Yandy Díaz’s soft grounder at Holmes’ first base scored a run, and Manuel Margot sent a 64.1 mph dribbler to third that tied it at 2-2. The brace was on Holmes, but what followed were the breaks which are ultimately hard to avoid in a long scoreless streak.
Luckily, those Yankees showed a propensity for getting rid of rare missteps, and they immediately did so in the top of the ninth against a pretty good Rays reliever in Jason Adam. The right-hander entered the game on Monday with an ERA of 0.68 and a WHIP of 0.638. He rarely allows baserunners, but the Yankees have also managed to get hits from him in two of their previous three games with Adam on the mound in 2022. Donaldson singled left and Hicks cut the game-clinching hit from the ball game with a triple RBI on the right. :
Margot suffered a horrific knee injury on the play and was down, helping Hicks to third and Donaldson to score. But Hicks deserves full credit for blasting that ball 356 feet and off the wall. For the second time in three games, he got the hit.
After Trevino tackled Hicks with a much-appreciated insurance run on a sacrifice fly, Wandy Peralta came in to close it out. Seeking to bounce back from an uncharacteristically poor outing in the blown series finale against Toronto, the southpaw still made fans sweat – although it wasn’t entirely his fault. He launched a first step towards Bruján, and after asking Harold Ramírez to fly towards Joey Gallo on a field goal, he got a double play ball from Paredes. However, third baseman DJ LeMahieu picked a bad time for his first mistake of the season, and he threw it away.
Peralta now had to face Lowe as the potential winner with the early tying run. He recovered from falling 2-0 to rookie to hit him with Paint on the outside corner, and although Mejía was able to conquer Holmes, he could not do the same with Peralta. A pop-up to Hicks in left field ended the chaotic ball game.
Exhale and enjoy the 4-2 win, everyone. The Yankees and Rays meet again at the same time tomorrow night at Tropicana Field, with Nestor Cortes seemingly set to deal with a bullpen game plan from Rays skipper Kevin Cash. The first pitch is at 7:10 p.m. ET.
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