ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Yankees resumed Tuesday night’s game in an unlikely fashion: a two-run homer from Marwin Gonzalez in the top of the ninth that brought them within a run.
The explosion got them where they had hoped at the start of the inning, as Aaron Judge came on at home plate as the run tied.
Pinch hitting for Joey Gallo against southpaw Colin Poche, Judge sent a fly ball left, but broke his bat on the play as their return fell through in a 5-4 loss at Tropicana Field.
“Every time he comes to the plate, you expect something to happen,” Gonzalez said of Judge. “He’s the best player in the league right now.”
But the judge couldn’t work his magic on Tuesday.
“We heard the noise [of the bat breaking]”, Gonzalez said. “When we saw the ball fly, we expected to go [out]. Everybody hits a ball like that, it’s a bloop on the shortstop. Unfortunately, he didn’t come out. »
The Yankees were there because Nestor Cortes was hit hard for the second time in his last three starts, as the southpaw allowed three season-high home runs, all on cutters.
It was the Yankees’ second loss in three games. They have still lost just two of their last 12 games and three of 20 falling to 50-18 this season.
Isaac Paredes — who hit three home runs on the night — and Harold Ramirez went back to back with Cortes late in the first.
The Yankees tied the game in the second on a two-run single by DJ LeMahieu.
But Cortes’ tough night continued in the third, as Paredes pushed him deep again to give the Rays a 3-2 lead.
The southpaw had allowed just six homers in his 12 starts before Tuesday and was knocked out in the fifth after a one-out single from Yandy Diaz — and Paredes again.
Clarke Schmidt came in and had the same fate as Cortes, homering Paredes for the third time on the night to make it 5-2.
An array of Rays relievers calmed the Yankees’ lineup, as Tampa Bay used seven pitchers to win for only the second time in eight games as the Rays try to hold off the Red Sox to stay third.
The Yankees threatened in the eighth, as LeMahieu and Josh Donaldson tied Luke Raley before Anthony Rizzo came out on the left.
And the inning ended when Stanton crushed hard ground to the right of Taylor Walls which the shortstop was able to reach and turn into a double play.
Cortes is in the middle of his first difficult period of the season.
The Twins reached him for four runs in 4 ¹/₃ innings on June 8 before he bounced back with a solid outing last Wednesday against the Rays in the Bronx.
But Tuesday, facing Tampa Bay for the second time in less than a week and the third time since May 26, Cortes was hit — and not just the home runs were hit hard.
Diaz smoked a left liner in the third and a single in the fifth.
Cortes said the fact the Rays have seen him so often in recent weeks is “definitely on my mind.”
“It probably gave them a little edge, but if I had located better, I could have done the job,” Cortes said.
Aaron Boone thought the Rays sometimes got ‘exhausted’ looking for the cutter and added that he didn’t let Cortes stay in the game longer to try and get his stuff back because he didn’t have the experience of some of their other starters. .
Cortes started with an ERA north of 2.00 for the first time this season (2.31) and the Yankees have lost only the second time in Cortes’ last eight outings.
Ron Marinaccio, the third Yankee pitcher of the night, hit Paredes with a two-out pitch in the seventh, but it was an 83-mph change.