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Fireworks on the Fourth of July: Yankees 8, Rays 4

The Yankees played a wild one down in Tampa on Independence Day. I know that I, for one, saw the Yankees get to the 9th inning with a 3-1 lead, and just assumed that the game was in the bag. In fact, my mind had already drifted to an upcoming fireworks display, when Chapman blew the save and the game went to extras. Luckily, the boys in pinstripes had their own firework finale planned, and the Yankees exploded in the 10th inning to put the game away for good, ultimately winning 8-4 to take a 7.5 game lead over the Rays in the AL East.

Cruising Through 8 Innings

For all the world, the Yankees looked as though they had this game in the bag through 8 innings. The Rays jumped to a 1-run lead in the first inning on the back of a Garcia RBI double to deep CF. It was all Yankees from then on. While Happ looked as inconsistent as he has all season long, he didn’t get burned and pitched a solid, efficient game through 5.1 innings. Good enough to get the W, but the Baseball Gods had other plans. Boone made a good decision to pull Happ in the middle of the 6th inning. Happ has been too inconsistent to trust him to finish an inning in which his pitch count is above 90 and there are better match-ups available in the bullpen. Going to Ottavino to get out of the inning was a good call.

The Yankees broke through against Chirinos in the 3rd inning. Ford, back on the 25-man roster to replace Luke Voit, smacked a single to lead-off the inning, and immediately scored on a single from Tauchman. Following two quick outs, Hicks roped a double to RF, bringing Tauchman home to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead. Great to see Hicka get a big hit in that spot – it looks like his bat is finally starting to come around. Hicks is one of the best values in the game when he hits to his ability, and he’s beginning to help the Yankees on that side of the ball.

Edwin Encarnacion tacked on a long HR in the 7th inning, smoking the ball 110 MPH to give the Yanks the 3-1 lead.

Overall, the Yankees were cruising until the unfortunate events of the 9th inning. In fact, Baseball Savant’s game probability statistic never gave the Rays a 50% shot or better of winning until the 9th inning.

Chapman’s Implosion

Chapman rarely has any command of his pitches, but he really struggled with control in this game. A walk and a loud double brought the Rays within one run of tying it up. Chapman then proceeded to throw two wild pitches in one at-bat to allow Wendle to cross home to tie the game. Chapman wasn’t through, as he ultimately would load the bases before finally getting the final out of the inning.

Chapman’s been great this year, but he was due for this kind of outing. Shake it off, and try again next time.

The Comeback

The Yanks offense muscled its way back to a lead in the top of the 10th. The Yanks loaded the bases with back-to-back walks from Urshela and Judge, and a bunt single by Gardy. LeMahieu then lashed a single to score Urshela and Judge, giving the Yanks a 2-run lead. The lead got broken open two batters later when Sanchez hit a mammoth 3-run homer – Statcast measured it with 113.7 Exit Velocity and estimated that it traveled 461 feet. What a shot, and it really put an exclamation mark on the Yankees’ dominance today.

The Yankees gave up a run in the bottom half of the frame, but the damage was done, as the Yanks’ offense put Chapman on their back today. A good win on a great day for baseball.

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