Game 8 Recap: Yankees come back to topple Rays, 8-4

The winning streak continues! Make it three straight wins, bringing the Yankees back to .500 early in the season. The highlights of this afternoon’s victory:

Jordan Montgomery’s debut

A little more length would have been nice, but it’s hard to complain about Jordan Montgomery’s debut. His only real blemish in his 4.2 innings pitched was a two-run homer surrendered to Rickie Weeks in the first inning. Overall, the tall lefty allowed three runs on five hits and two walks while fanning seven. One of the three runs allowed was unearned: it was an inherited runner that Bryan Mitchell - really, Starlin Castro - allowed on a fielding error after Montgomery exited.

Cheap runs to commence the come back

Behind 3-0, the Yankees scratched across two runs in the bottom of the fifth in ugly fashion. To load the bases, Chase Headley singled, Aaron Judge walked, and Kyle Higashioka reached on error all with nobody out. Promising! Except Pete Kozma was coming up. Seemed like a pinch hit situation even though the lefty Blake Snell was on the mound (with Brett Gardner and Greg Bird on the bench), but Girardi stuck with his starter. Kozma popped out and Jacoby Ellsbury did the same right after. Looked like the Rays were about to escape a major jam. Then, they decided to hand the Yankees a couple of cheap runs.

Aaron Hicks walked on a full count to put the Yankees on board, and that would be all for Snell. In came Jumbo Diaz to face Matt Holliday with the bases still full. Diaz uncorked a wild pitch, allowing Judge to score and make it 3-2. Diaz would escape after walking Holliday by inducing Chris Carter to pop out.

The Aaron Judge Show

After a strange two runs the inning before, the Yankees scored in a more traditional fashion in the sixth. Starlin Castro and Headley hit back-to-back singles to open the frame, and up came Aaron Judge. How good has he been lately? On a 1-0 pitch, Judge ripped a liner inches away from Diaz’ head and into center field for an RBI single to level the game at 3 a piece. Look at this thing:

That is scary. The Yanks tacked on three more runs in the same inning. More on how the go ahead run scored in a moment.

Judge’s day was far from over after his game tying hit. In the seventh, with the Yankees up 6-3, he did this:

Just a casual bomb to dead center. No big deal. 

Gardner hurt

Pinch-hitting for Kozma in the sixth, Gardner drove in the go ahead run but paid the price. On a chopper back to the mound, Xavier Cedeno hesitated and threw low to first baseman Rickie Weeks, resulting in a collision at the bag. Gardner appeared to take the brunt of the hit, flailing hard to the ground. He was removed from the game after remaining on the ground for a few minutes, but fortunately came off the field on his own strength. After the game, the Yankees announced that Gardner sustained a bruised jaw and strained neck. Fortunately, no concussion tests are necessary yet. That being said, we don’t know if or how many games Gardner will need to miss, or if this will require a stint on the disabled list.

Other notes

Aroldis Chapman recorded his first save of the season. It was a two-out save, as Jonathan Holder started the ninth with a four-run cushion. After two runners reached safely, Girardi decided to hand the ball to his closer.

After the game, the Yankees provided some news regarding James Kaprielian’s health. Though no injury diagnosis or treatment plan was announced, it's evident that Kaprielian will need to decide between surgery or rest and rehab. Either way, it sounds like we won't be seeing him for a very long time. Tough to lose another year of development for Kaprielian.

Next game

Tomorrow, the Yankees (4-4) can finish a sweep of Tampa Bay (5-4) and win a fourth straight game. The first pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm in the Bronx. The pitchers: Matt Andriese for Tampa Bay and Luis Severino for the Bombers.