Yankees rally for walk-off win on Gio Urshela RBI to beat Rays, take over first place
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NEW YORK – The American League East has a new division leader. And Gio Urshela has his first iconic moment in pinstripes.
The Yankees rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth and celebrated by the mound after Urshela walked it off with a single. It gave New York a dramatic 4-3 victory over Tampa Bay and a half-game lead over the Rays.
The Yankees (27-16) came to life off Tampa closer Jose Alvarado on Friday and fought back for their fourth straight win.
“It’s unbelievable,” Luke Voit said. “This is like the funnest team I’ve ever played for. Night in and night out, it gets better and better. It’s crazy.”
The craziness started with Voit, who came to the plate in the ninth with the Yankees down 3-1. He led off the inning with a solo home run and watched his teammates continue the rally. New York put the tying run on base when Gary Sanchez singled and followed it up with a 10-pitch double by Gleyber Torres a few batters later.
Urshela got his turn to bat with two outs, the score tied and Clint Frazier standing on third.
“I said, turn off the lights,” starter CC Sabathia said. “You watch him take good at-bats and hit the ball all over the field. He’s been the MVP of this team so far.”
Urshela worked a 2-0 count and then smoked a ball 109.1 mph over the head of Kevin Kiermaier. The third basemen is hitting .429 with runners in scoring position this season, but had never had a walk-off in his career.
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Manager Aaron Boone reacts to the Yankees’ walkoff win over the Rays. Sean Farrell, Staff Writer, @seanfarrell92
“He’s a really good pitcher, one of the best right now in the big leagues,” Urshela said of Alvarado. “I was just trying to go up with confidence at the plate and get that hit.”
The Yankees got another good outing from Sabathia, who allowed one run over six innings. This was his longest start of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.97. It’s hard to imagine where the Yankees, or their decimated starting rotation, would be without him.
The only problem for Sabathia was that the Yankee offense wasn’t able to give him much help.
They were held in check by opener Ryne Stanek and then Yonny Chirinos, who threw 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
It was the 13th time the Rays used an opener this season, and all but one has come with Stanek on the mound. In total, their openers have a 1.74 ERA over 13 games this year.
The Yankee offense was held quiet for most of the night, aside from a blast from its newest addition. Kendrys Morales hit an upper deck home run in the second inning that went 417 feet.
The Yankees acquired Morales in a deal with Oakland this week for cash considerations or a player to be named later. He had been designated for the assignment by the A’s, his sixth major league team.
“We’re at a point in the season where there’s so long to go where you don’t get caught in the standings as much as that we want to put our best foot forward every day,” manager Aaron Boone said. “They’ve consistently been able to do that.”
The Yankees had not been in first place since March 29. The season could have spiraled out of control with 13 players currently on the injured list, but the depth pickups and shrewd moves by general manager Brian Cashman have prevented further damage.
“It’s just the confidence,” Voit said. “Whether it’s the guys that we had last year or the guys we just acquired or guys coming up from Scranton. We knew we had a chance to win, even though we’re facing Alvarado. It doesn’t matter who we’re facing.”