Bullpen leads Rays in split vs. Yankees

by Gary Shelton on August 9, 2020

in general

Anderson kept the ball inside the park./CHUCK MULLER

Sunday, 3 a.m.

Nick Anderson threw the ball with power. Aaron Judge swung the bat with power.

And in the end, Anderson won the battle.

Because he kept the ball in the park.

It was a crucial moment, to be sure. It was the bottom of the seventh, and Judge -- the leading home run hitter in the majors -- was the tying run. Anderson was set to throw a full-count pitch.

And Judge launched it. He hit a ball deep to center field, where it was run down by center fielder Kevin Kiermaier for the final out of a 5-3 win. It was the typical inhale-deeply and exhale-slowly moment.

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Ah, but that is the blessing -- and the curse -- of the Yankees. They are a powerful team, one that can smash an opponent into submission. But they are heavily reliant on the home run ball. For instance, in games one and three of this series, the Rays have held the Yankees without a homer, and they've won both games. In the other -- the first game on Saturday -- the Yankees hit three homers and won an 8-4 game.

"I closed my eyes," said Anderson. I just turned around. I thought it was a fairly decent popup. Then I saw K.K. keep running back and I thought... 'Jeez.' I crossed my fingers it wasn’t going out."

It didn't, and the bottom line result is the that the Rays have won two of three against the AL-East leading Yankees.

The Yankees won the first game on homers by Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Mike Ford. Tyler Glasnow started for the Rays, but gave up four earned runs in only 2 2/3 innings.

"Glass didn’t have that rhythm he needs to stay consistent and  stay within himself.," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "The tempo was really fast paced.  couldnt’ quite get the pitches where he wanted."

The Yankees walked nine batters in six at-bats in the second game, leading the Rays to the win behind their "opener" strategy. Austin Meadows had a bloop single to the opposite field for two runs.

"We’ll take any of them," Cash said. "A hard hit, a blooper, it doesn’t matter right now. We just want to find a way to get guys on base and come up with a hit. It doesn’t have to be the hardest-hit ball. When you are scuffling as a team like we have, anything like that can energize a dugout."

Cash admitted his team "isn't rolling yet," but a strong bullpen has helped to the two wins over the Yankees.

"That bullpen has been called upon frequently," Cash said. "We’ve gassed them more than we’d like. To a man, they’ve done a tremendous job of stopping up. "

The Rays conclude their series at 1:10 p.m. against the Yankees today at Tropicana Field. Charlie Morton will start for the Rays against James Paxton of New York.

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