The New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays followed up an action-packed contest on Friday night with another eventful, high-scoring game on Saturday afternoon. The Yankees prevailed 9-8 (box score), just as they had on Friday, by staging a furious comeback that overcame an early 6-0 deficit. Aaron Judge, last year’s home run king, recorded his second multi-homer game of the season and his first since April 9.
The Yankees have now ensured they’ll at least split their four-game set against Major League Baseball’s most successful team. The Yankees are 23-18 on the season, while the Rays are 30-11, meaning New York is seven games back in the American League East. The Yankees could move out of the cellar and into a tie for third place with losses by the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday.
It’s worth noting that the Rays have suffered four losses all season when they’ve scored first. The Yankees are responsible for three of those, according to Stathead’s Katie Sharp.
Here are four other things to know about Saturday’s game.
1. Judge fuels comeback
As mentioned in the introduction, Yankees slugger Aaron Judge recorded his second multi-homer effort of the season on Saturday as part of a comeback effort.
Judge launched his first home run in the fifth inning, a two-run blast that had a 106 mph exit velocity and traveled 382 feet, to shrink Tampa Bay’s lead from 6-2 to 6-4. He then hit another two-run shot in the sixth, this time to give the Yankees a 7-6 lead. Judge’s second home run had a 113.5 mph exit velocity and carried 439 feet.
Judge’s home runs were the longest and fourth-longest balls hit during Saturday’s game. He was also responsible for the third-longest, a 383-foot fly out to center field early on.
The slugger now has 29 multi-homer games with the Yankees, putting him sixth in franchise history. He’s six away from tying Alex Rodriguez for fifth most. The leader in that category is, of course, Babe Ruth (68 multi-homer games).
Entering Saturday, Judge had hit .255/.349/.481 (129 OPS+) with six home runs and 16 runs batted in over 30 games. These home runs marked his first since returning from a stay on the injured list on Tuesday caused by a strained hamstring.
2. Díaz hits grand slam
Although Judge’s home-run heroics took priority, don’t overlook how the Rays built a 6-0 lead in the first place — largely on the strength of a grand slam from Yandy Díaz.
Díaz teed off on Nestor Cortes in the fifth inning, increasing Tampa Bay’s lead from 1-0 to 5-0 with a single swing. His home run had a 108.5 mph exit velocity and traveled 425 feet, according to Statcast. Take a look:
Díaz entered Saturday batting .311/.420/.563 (177 OPS+) with nine home runs. His single-season career-high in dingers is 14, suggesting he’s in prime position to best that mark — and with ample time to spare, at that.
3. McClanahan scuffles
Shane McClanahan has solidified himself over the last three years as one of the best lefty starters in baseball. He had an uncharacteristically off outing on Saturday, surrendering four runs on five hits and four walks over the course of four innings pitched.
McClanahan, who entered Saturday with a 1.76 ERA and a 2.90 strikeout-to-walk ratio in his first eight appearances, had previously not allowed more than two runs in a start this year. Likewise, he had worked at least five innings each time out. This was the fourth time this year he’s walked four batters in a start. He also did it last time out against the Baltimore Orioles. The Rays nevertheless won that game 3-0.
4. Series finale on deck
The Yankees and Rays will reconvene on Sunday for the series finale. Clarke Schmidt (5.35 ERA, 4.91 FIP) is expected to get the nod against veteran righty Zach Eflin (2.91 ERA, 3.21 FIP). Another Yankees win would put them six games back, or the closest they’ve been since April 27. First pitch is scheduled for just after 1:35 p.m. ET.