Yankees: Good news and bad news from 9-8 thriller over Tampa Bay

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May 13, 2023; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees center fielder Aaron Judge (99) hits a two-run home run against the Tampa Bay Rays during the fifth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Jones-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees clinched their most exhilarating victory of the season today, with a score of 9-8. Initially, it appeared to be another challenging day for the offense as they trailed 6-0. However, the team remained undeterred, ousted McClanahan early, and capitalized on the Rays’ bullpen. Even though Nestor had a difficult day, the offense rallied to support him, with every player contributing significantly. The standout performance was from Aaron Judge, who delivered the game-changing plays we had been eagerly anticipating.

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The Yankees’ pitching was initially shaky but rallied in the closing stages:

Nestor began impressively, cruising through the first four innings. However, he encountered difficulty in the fifth inning and was unable to steer clear of trouble. Boone possibly kept him on the mound a little too long, and Nestor, who has been struggling of late, faltered. He conceded a grand slam in the 5th and was relieved after securing just one out. He surrendered 6 runs, allowed 7 hits, struck out three batters, and threw 78 pitches over the course of the afternoon. Despite his current rough patch, I am confident he’ll rebound.

Upon Nestor’s exit, Jimmy Cordero stepped up, delivering 1.2 scoreless innings and striking out two batters. Cordero has proven to be a valuable addition to the bullpen this season, and his powerful sinker continues to be effective. Following him, Ron the Don faced difficulties. He has had several consecutive tough outings, but anyone who doubts his ability to bounce back is mistaken. He possesses exceptional skills; he merely needs to regroup and refocus. After he conceded two runs today, his annual ERA increased to 3.71.

When Marinaccio encountered adversity, Clay Holmes was brought in and performed commendably overall. He navigated through several tricky situations, although he did allow two runs — attributed to Marinaccio — due to some unfortunate soft contact. He struck out three, conceded three hits, and pitched for 1.2 innings. Following him, Wandy stepped in and secured a save for the second consecutive day. He seems to be establishing himself as the team’s primary closer, which I wholly support. After a hard-fought confrontation with Arozarena, he retired Brandon Lowe, thereby sealing a hard-earned victory for the Yankees over the Rays.

Aaron Judge commanded the spotlight:

Today, the offense was torrential, with Aaron Judge delivering two home runs that revived the Yankees. His two home runs and walk during the day are gradually nudging his OPS back toward his career average. He now boasts an OPS of .895. The Captain has returned as if he never left, giving the Yankees an opportunity to clinch the series 3-1 if they emerge victorious tomorrow. Rizzo continued his excellent performance, contributing three hits, including a double. With a batting average of .311 and no shifts to impede him, Rizzo’s hits are frequently finding their way home.

Volpe added another hit and swiftly stole second and third base, marking his 12th and 13th stolen bases of the year. Higgy kept the team competitive with a two-run home run in the fifth inning, followed by Judge’s own two-run blast. Boone also demonstrated his strategic acumen by opting to pinch-hit Oswaldo Cabrera for IKF, a move that paid immediate dividends. Cabrera delivered a two-run single, providing the Yankees with a more comfortable lead, which they successfully maintained.

DJ and Bauers each added a hit and a walk to their records. Bauers’ power has proven to be formidable, and he has been a valuable asset at the bottom of the lineup. DJ’s strong performance brought his OPS tantalizingly close to the .800 mark; it now stands at .796. Gleyber Torres, despite not recording a hit from the leadoff spot, drew a pair of walks and made solid contact with several balls during the day.

The Yankees have now consecutively played their two best games of the season, with the offense performing as expected. With Stanton’s imminent return, the team appears to be finding their rhythm. Hopefully, they can sustain this momentum and leverage it to secure victories in crucial games against division rivals. The Yankees have an impressive record of 8-3 in their last 11 games, reflecting their excellent recent performance.