By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, JUNE22- The Yankees, after trailing, 5-3, at the end of the sixth frame, exploded for four runs in the seventh to capture their second straight victory over the Tampa Rays.
The 81 degree temperature at 1 p.m. seemed ideal for Yankees starter C.C. Sabathia, who thrives in the summer climate. He threw the second lowest number of pitches, 91, in his 16 starts of 2013, but lasted seven innings. Although he gave up five earned runs, his highest total at Yankee Stadium this season, all five were scored on two home runs. Yankee skipper Joe Girardi, after the game, commented on his starter’s performance, “I thought he was good except for one pitch.”
Evan Longoria took a 0-1pitch in the centerfield seats to lead-off the second. The homer was his third in the three games of the series with the Yanks and his 7th in the last 13 contests.
Tampa’s other four runs were scored on a grand slam rookie by Wil Myers, playing in his sixth major league game. Sam Fuld led off the inning by drawing a base on balls. Desmond Jennings followed with a double. Longoria was walked intentionally for Sabathia to face the newcomer Myers. Girardi explained his reasoning, “In that situation, I’m going to go after the younger kid.” Girardi spoke of how well; Longoria was batting, especially against left handers, and most especially against Sabathia. Longoria has a .383 batting average against Sabathia. After the explanation, the manager did admit, “It didn’t work out.”
After the contest, the Yankee starter spoke with respect for Myers, “he put a good swing on the ball and it went out. I heard he was a good hitter, a good prospect.”
Myers, Baseball America’s fourth best prospect hit successfully three times against the Yanks to raise his batting average to .280.
The first three runs of the Yankees were unearned, but driven in by rookie Zoilo Amonte,appearing in only his fourth game in the majors. Brett Gardner was safe on an error to begin the third. Robinson Cano and Travis Hafner singled. Almonte stepped to the plate with two out and the bases full. The native of the Dominican Republic, who celebrated his 24th birthday only 12 days earlier, drove a single to center to score the Yankees first two runs.
Two innings later, with the sacks again full after a Tampa error and two walks, the youngster showed his ability to perform under pressure by drawing a walk for his third run batted in of the game.
Almonte has now hit in three straight games and his average is .625.
A big seventh inning for New York decided the outcome. With Cano, Overbay and Almonte on base and two out, another Yankee who made his MLB debut this season, walked to knock in a run. Veteran Vernon was called to pinch hit for catcher Chris Stewart. Despite hitting successfully only 9 times in his last 87 at bats, Girardi stated his faith in the experienced player, “Throughout his struggles, I still thought his at bats against lefthanders were good.”
This time Girardi’s decision did work as wells doubled to deep center and three runs scored. A happy Wells spoke after the contest, “It’s good to hit the ball and it not land in someone’s glove.”
Mariano Rivera came in for the ninth and earned his 26th save of the season.
Ivan Nova (2-1) will be recalled from the minors to start the final game of the four game set for the Yanks. Rookie righty Chris Archer (1-3) is scheduled to make his first appearance against the Yanks.