Wander returns as Rays close in on Yanks

by Gary Shelton on September 9, 2022

in general

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Reinforcements? For the New York Yankees, the last thing they needed was for the Tampa Bay Rays to bring in reinforcements.

Yet, here comes Wander Franco, charging down the hill after missing 51 games with an injury. Franco splashed in his first game, collecting a single and two doubles to help the Rays to a 4-2 victory over the Yankees, a win that brought the Rays to within 3 1//2 games of the division lead (and two in the loss column) as their historic comeback continued to coincide with the Yankees' historic collapse.

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The Rays, who trailed the Yankees by 15 1/2 games on July 10, have been closing ground lately despite offensive holes in the lineup. One of those may have disappeared with Franco's return.

Together, the top three hitters in the Rays lineup (Yandy Diaz, Franco and Randy Arozarena had eight of the Rays' 11 hits between them.

Drew Rasmussen was superb for the Rays, shutting out the Yankees for six innings on six hits.

If things weren't bad enough for the Yankees, Aaron the Lesser (Aaron Hicks) had a brutal game for New York. He struck out in both of his bats, and in the bottom of the fourth dropped a fly ball (it was ruled a double for Franco by the scorekeeper) in left field. Even worse, he stood and hung his head while Rays' runners circled the bases.

One batter later, he took a poor route to a fly ball on Arozarena 's double for the fourth run.

"It's good to have Wander back," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "He's a super talented player. It was just  a matter of getting over the hump of feeling okay. His timing is elite. His bat-to-ball skills are very elite."

The Rays play the Yankees again today at 1:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium. Corey Kluber will pitch for the Rays against Jameson Taillon.

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