Brett Gardner's homer, Aaron Judge's defense helps New York Yankees avoid sweep

By Corey Long, The Sports Xchange
The Yankees rode Brett Gardner's home run and Aaron Judge's defense to a 3-2 victory over Tampa, avoiding the weekend sweep. Photo courtesy New York Yankees/Twitter
The Yankees rode Brett Gardner's home run and Aaron Judge's defense to a 3-2 victory over Tampa, avoiding the weekend sweep. Photo courtesy New York Yankees/Twitter

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- In a reversal of roles, it was Brett Gardner providing the power and Aaron Judge making the key defensive play to help the New York Yankees snap a three-game losing streak Sunday.

Gardner hit a two-run homer in the top of the second inning, and Judge made a diving catch that saved a run and helped the Yankees avoid a sweep with a 3-2 win against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.


Judge robbed Rays third baseman Evan Longoria of a run-scoring double in the right-center-field gap in the bottom of the sixth inning. Corey Dickerson, who singled to lead off the inning, was nearly around third base when the right fielder made the catch, and he was easily doubled off at first.


"I thought it was a double for sure," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "He laid out. It's an unbelievable play and he saved the game for us."

Judge, who struggled at the plate, going 0-for-4 for four strikeouts, said he wasn't sure if he was going to be able to catch it when the ball came off the bat.

"I just took a couple of steps and I got there," Judge said. "I wasn't doing it on offense, so I had to do something on defense to help the team."

The bullpen of Chad Green, Tyler Clippard and Dellin Betances combined for four no-hit innings to preserve the slim lead for the Yankees (25-16). Betances got the final four outs for the save.

In the second, Gardner took the first offering from Rays starter Chris Archer and sent the pitch over the right field wall to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. Didi Gregorius tied the game earlier in the inning with a single that scored Jacoby Ellsbury.


The three-run inning ruined an otherwise strong day from Archer (3-3), who struck out 12 and gave up six hits in 6 1/3 innings. He threw 108 pitches, 72 for strikes.

"There were maybe two or three pitches I didn't execute how I wanted to and they capitalized," Archer said. "That's what good baseball players do. Today was a pitchers' duel. (New York's CC) Sabathia came with it. He gave up one earned run, and their bullpen did a good job of coming in and locking it down."

Tampa Bay (23-23) got Archer early run support in the first inning when Dickerson scored from second on a throwing error by Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez.

Yankees starter CC Sabathia was otherwise able to avoid trouble for most of his outing. He made Gardner's homer stand up despite giving up a solo home run to Rays catcher Derek Norris in the fifth inning that made the score 3-2.

"I think we had some opportunities to win against the first-place team," Rays right fielder Steven Souza Jr. said. "They had been on a roll when they were here. We wanted the sweep, but we were able to win the series."


Sabathia (4-2) went five-plus innings and gave up two runs (one earned) on four hits. He struck out six, walked one and threw 95 pitches, 67 strikes.

"I just think my stuff was a little bit crisper today," Sabathia said. "Sanchez did a great job behind the plate again. We got two-strike counts, and even though they fouled a lot of pitches and ran my pitch count up a little, we were able to finish when we needed to."

Gregorius was 4-for-4 while the Yankees' 3-4-5 hitters, Matt Holliday, Starlin Castro and Judge, combined to go 0-for-12 with 11 strikeouts.

NOTES: Rays manager Kevin Cash shuffled his lineup with a left-handed pitcher on the mound. He moved DH Corey Dickerson to the second spot and CF Kevin Kiermaier down to sixth while SS Tim Beckham was moved to leadoff. ... Yankees RHP Bryan Mitchell was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barres prior to the game. He arrived at the park during the contest but did not pitch. RHP Giovanny Gallegos was sent down in a corresponding move. ... Rays SS Matt Duffy (heel surgery) said he will begin a running program Monday in hopes of playing rehab games before next weekend.


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