Game 135 Recap: Yankees 6 Rays 4

A-Rod HR vs TB II There was reason for pessimism heading into this afternoon's rubber match against the Rays.  Ivan Nova had been battling his command lately and Tampa was rolling out staff ace Chris Archer, who has owned the Yankees in his short career.  The Yanks got to him in 1 big inning to pull themselves ahead, then tacked on enough runs for their bullpen to take the W home.

It was another up and down day for Ivan.  He got hit around a bit in the early innings, gave up a 2-run homer to Kevin Kiermaier in the 2nd, and another run on a walk and a pair of singles in the 3rd to put his team in a 3-0 hole.  But he also managed to gather things up after the 3rd and work 3 more innings scoreless, turning in a 6-inning, 3-run performance when his day was done.  Once again it wasn't pretty, but Nova kept it close and gave his club a little bit more length than it appeared he would when the game started.

Archer continued his complete and total mastery of the Yankees for the first 5 innings.  The only hit they got off him was off the bat of noted Archer-killer Jacoby Ellsbury, and Archer looked poised to go the distance.  Then he hit a speed bump in the 6th when Ellsbury singled with 1 out and Carlos Beltran drew a walk with 2 to bring up Brian McCann.  McCann worked a 3-0 count and then took a fastball for a strike.  He was looking for the same fastball on the next pitch and he got it, turning on it and crushing it deep into the right field seats for a game-tying, 3-run homer.  Archer was clearly rattled by what happened because he grooved a slider to Alex Rodriguez on the next pitch and A-Rod hit it out to right for the go-ahead home run.  2 pitches, 2 swings, 2 dingers, 1-run lead.

The Yanks got one insurance run in the 7th thanks mainly to Didi Gregorius' heads up baserunning.  He singled to start the inning, moved to second on a wild pitch, and scored from there when Logan Forsythe threw the ball away trying to turn 2 on Brett Gardner.  Didi drove in the second insurance run with a bases loaded single in the 8th.  How's that for the BABIP game evening out after his unlucky lineout yesterday?

Joe did his usual thing and pieced the game together with his top tier relievers after Nova's 6.  Justin Wilson got 2 outs in the 7th and handed over to Dellin Betances after surrendering a 2-out double.  Betances finished the 7th and then labored through the 8th, serving up a solo home run to Asdrubal Cabrera and needing a clutch double play to end a go-ahead threat.  That got the ball to Andrew Miller and he worked around a pair of 2-out hits to pick up his 31st save of the year.  Big series win.

Game Notes:

- 6th multi-hit game in the last 10 for Didi.  He's been the best all-around player on the team for the past 2-3 weeks and he's quickly becoming my new favorite player to watch.

- 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K for Nova.  Threw 80 pitches and ended up getting 10 outs on the ground.  That's not bad at all considering how tough the first 3 innings were for him.

- A-Rod also singled up the middle during the 8th inning rally, his first multi-hit game since August 20th.  He's homered in 2 of the last 3 games too, so maybe he's starting to come out of his funk.

- Betances didn't look sharp in the 8th inning today.  Really seemed like he was struggling to command his fastball and that's something I've noticed in more than 1 of his recent outings.  Can't put it on the corners and throws it right down the middle more often than he usually does.  Still throws a nasty curve though, and you have to give him credit for working out of trouble.

- McCann's homer was his 25th of the year, a new career high.  He's come up with a lot of big hits this year.  Might be the new team MVP with Teix on the shelf.

- Miller has faced 37 batters in his last 10 appearances.  He's struck out 18 of them.

- 1-3 day with a walk for Greg Bird.  Plugging along at .260/.337/.466.