While the Yankees may essentially out of the A.L. Wild Card race, that doesn’t mean they aren’t playing exciting games. Michael Pineda turned in one of his finer performances of the season and Gary Sanchez punctuated a late-game comeback as New York took the series opener against the Rays 5-3.
Pineda pitched well, but New York found itself in a 2-0 hole early on. Mark Teixeira hit a solo shot to bring the Yankees within one, and then a four-run seventh gave them the lead they would not relinquish. After a Brett Gardner RBI single, Gary Sanchez hit yet another home run. At this point, you have to consider Sanchez for Rookie of the Year for leading this late-season charge to the Wild Card, even if it ultimately falls short.
THE PLAY: THE REAL SANCHIZE (+.380 WPA)
Sanchez’s home run was his 17th of the season, 10 of which have been at least 400 feet, including Tuesday’s. He’s played in just 42 games this season. What more can be said? The kid’s an absolute stud.
Yankees — Billy Butler: 2-for-4, 2 2B
Rays — Evan Longoria: 2-for-3, 1 R
— Michael Pineda pitched well Tuesday night with his only mistake coming in the form of a two-run Brad Miller triple in the third inning. Pineda struck out 11 Rays batters in 5.1 innings of work, one strikeout shy of tying his season high.
— Mark Teixeira hit what might be the last home run of his career. In the fourth inning, Tex launched a bomb deep to down the left field line for his 13th home run of the season. While the Yankees still have one homestand left this season where he can take advantage of the short porches, Teixeira’s reduced power numbers and .199/.289/.346 slash line may indicate we’ve seen the last Tex Message.
— Luis Severino continued to be fantastic out of the bullpen. Tuesday night against the Rays, Severino pitched XX. Since returning to the majors in September, the righty allowed just one earned run and six hits in 13 relief innings while adding 12 strikeouts.
THE HIGHLIGHT: FINAL TEX MESSAGE?
Here’s a closer look at Teixeira’s home run from Tuesday’s game. The bomb was Tex’s 204th as a Yankee over his career, by far the most he’s hit with any team (Texas is second with 153). He has spent eight years in pinstripes, which averages to 25.5 home runs per season with New York. He hit 39 home runs in two seasons, when he led the league in 2009 and also in 2011.
The Yankees continue their final series of the season with Tampa Bay on Wednesday at 7:10 p.m. Masahiro Tanaka (13-4, 2.97 ERA) will keep up his push for the Cy Young Award against Alex Cobb (1-0, 3.06 ERA) on the hill.
Photo: Kim Klement / USA Today Sports; Videos: MLBAM