Friday, May 12, 2023

"Rock Solid" Rizzo Blasts Pair To Push Yankees Past Rays

Anthony Rizzo rounding the bases on his eighth inning home run as the light show begins and Tampa Bay pitcher Jason Adam looks on. Photo by Jason Schott.


It was Anthony Rizzo Mandalorian Bobblehead night at Yankee Stadium on Friday, and the force certainly was with the Yankees first baseman.

Rizzo blasted two home runs, including the game-winning two-run shot, as the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 6-5. The Yankees improved to 22-18, while Tampa Bay fell to 30-10 on the season. After dropping two of three in Tampa Bay last season, the Yankees have now split the first two of this four-game set at The Stadium.

Rizzo's first home run came in the first inning off Rays starter Trevor Kelley, a blast to right field and tied the score at 1 at the time, as Tampa Bay had taken the lead on a Randy Arrozarena blast to left field.

When Rizzo came up in the eighth, Tampa Bay led 5-4, and Aaron Judge had just drawn a one-out walk from Kevin Kelly.

Tampa Bay turned to Jason Adam, a right-handed pitcher, for Rizzo, and he turned on the first pitch he saw, and it was a no-doubter to right field, and the Yankees had the 6-5 lead. Rizzo now has eight home runs and 20 RBI on the season.

Anthony Rizzo approaching the plate, with Aaron Judge and DJ LeMahieu waiting for him. Photo by Jason Schott.

Yankees Manager Aaron Boone said of Rizzo's two homers, "Man, I mean, first one looked like it was in off the plate, I don't know how he got to it. And, then, just, you know, got aggressive with a fastball there with Adam, right out of the chute. You know, obviously, he's one of the tougher guys you're going to face, and equally tough against right and left and, you know, didn't miss it. Got a pitch and didn't miss it, and was ready to go from the jump, and, you know, obviously that turned out to be the difference."

On how steady a presence Rizzo has been this season as the Yankees have dealt with injuries in their starting lineup, Boone said, "I mean, he's been in there every - what's he had, one day off, maybe two, couple of DH (designated hitter) days, you know, he has been, it's been great. His swing really started to lock in probably the last day or two of spring training, where I thought he was starting to get it going a little bit and carried it into the season.

"He's been, you know, I think I described, rock solid, and that's what he's been, he's just been a great presence in the middle of our order and really consistent, and like he usually always does, big hits come with it."

The Yankees had a different look to their lineup on Friday night, as Anthony Volpe, the rookie shortstop who hit leadoff every game since April 16, was slotted in the seventh spot.

Boone said of the move in his pregame remarks, “Just with getting some more guys back in the mix, it’s something I considered. Again, I think the at-bat quality has remained there with Anthony, and could end up back there (leadoff) or, as we get more guys back, could end up at the bottom again. You know I like him there, but just something I wanted to do today.” 

Gleyber Torres was in the leadoff spot, and Boone said of that decision, “With them going opener, then the lefty, just want him up as much as possible, too.”

Gerrit Cole was on the mound for the Yankees, looking to avenge a tough outing last Sunday in Tampa Bay (5 innings pitched, 6 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned runs, 2 walks, 6 strikeouts), as the Yankees fell in 10 innings, 8-7.

Boone was asked about any adjustments Cole might make, and he said, “He just made some mistakes that they capitalized on. You know, he’s been so good with his execution, and that inning, you know, hung some breaking balls, just missed with some locations, you know, that he hasn’t done a lot this year, and to their credit they capitalized on them…

“I don’t know that it’s necessarily about adjustments. There’s always adjustments, you know, if you have a rough start or even when you have a really good start, and certainly when you’re facing the same opponent again, you know, five days later. There’s always that little bit of cat-and-mouse…probably more thought goes into the sequencing of things.”

On Cole wanting this one badly, Boone said, “Gerrit always wants to get out there, so nothing really changes, you know.”

Cole started off well, as he got the first two outs quick, but Randy Arozarena made his presence felt immediately, as he blasted one to left field that landed in the front row of the second deck for a solo shot, his 10th homer of the season.

Brandon Lowe walked and Harold Ramirez singled, but Cole got Isaac Paredes to fly out to left field to end the frame. He threw 30 pitches, but keeping them at one run was not too damaging.

Rizzo tied it in the bottom of the first on his solo home run off the opener Trevor Kelley, and Tampa Bay got the lead back in the second when Jose Siri blasted one to the back of the lower deck in left field. 

Cole then worked around a walk to Yandy Diaz and Wander Franco reaching on an error by Volpe by getting Arozarena to fly out to left.

After that, Cole pitched three scoreless innnings, in which he just scattered a pair of hits. The final line for Cole was: 5 innings, 5 hits, 2 runs (both earned), 2 walks, 5 strikeouts.

Boone said of Cole's outing, as he battled after a tough opening inning, "I mean, I think that embodied, overall, our night, like a gutsy effort, I mean it wasn't perfect, right. I thought they had a really good approach against him because I thought he was throwing the ball really well, and you know, I think the first three innings, he got the first two batters out, was two strikes a couple times, and they were able to string together long innings, but really didn't break, obviously. You know, Arozarena hit probably not a terrible pitch. I think Arozarena did a good job of selling out and hunting what he was looking for each time up. You know, Siri was a mistake, I think he was trying to go low and away and misses up, up and out over, but big pitches, and to be able to, after a long first inning, a long second inning, and even a long third inning, to be able to give us five and keep it right there and keep us in the game, again, it's not always going to be perfect, but that was a big time outing, in my opinion."

Gerrit Cole throwing the pitch that Isaac Paredes flew out to left field to end the first inning. Photo by Jason Schott.

With the Yankees down 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth and lefty Josh Fleming (who came on in the third) still on for Tampa Bay, Volpe tied it at 2 with a blast to right field.

That took Cole off the hook, and the Yankees grabbed the lead in the seventh against Kevin Kelly, as Volpe and Oswaldo Cabrera each had RBI singles to make it 5-4 Yankees.

Michael King, who pitched a scoreless seventh, was still on for the Yankees in the eighth, and Tampa Bay rallied.

Ramirez and Paredes singled, and Josh Lowe blasted one to left field for a three-run shot to put Tampa Bay up 5-4. That was the ninth home run of the season for Lowe.

Christian Bethancourt singled, and then he was erased in a force out hit into by Siri, and that was all for King.

Clay Holmes came on next for the Yankees, and Diaz greeted him with a single to give the Rays runners at first and third base with one out. The Yankees right-hander than struck out Franco looking and got Arozarena to bounce one back to him, with Holmes using his large frame to make it look easy.

The Yankees then took the lead, 6-5, on Rizzo's blast, which was documented above, and Wandy Peralta came on to close it out in the ninth. The lefty struck out two and worked around a single to Paredes by getting Manuel Margot, who was pinch-hitting for Josh Lowe - yes, the player who homered in the eighth was pinch-hit an inning later! - to ground back to Peralta to end it. It was Peralta's first save of the season, and Holmes earned his first win, as well.

Boone was asked if he was impressed by this win after suffering an 8-2 loss in the series opener Thursday night, and he said, "Yes, and that's what they've been doing, you know, look, it hasn't been easy for us, it hasn't been perfect. You know, we've been beat up at different times, but this group is really, really competing well, and that rang true tonight. You know, you lose a tough one and you  fall behind, you kind of crawl back to tie it up and take the lead and lose the lead, and just keep on playing, and, so, just a gutsy win by a lot guys stepping up there when it's not easy."

No comments:

Post a Comment