Recently acquired catcher Travis d’Arnaud had the game of a lifetime to shock the New York Yankees in what was undoubtedly the biggest win of the season for the Tampa Bay Rays. The former Mets top prospect homered three times and walked twice over five plate appearances driving in all five of the Rays runs in the 5-4 come from behind victory.
Down 2-1 in the 7th inning, the Yankees tied the game with a two-out, 0-2 solo home run by Gio Urshela. Then, Edwin Encarnacion hit a go-ahead two-run blast with two outs to put New York up 4-2 with Aroldis Chapman coming on for the save. The Yankees closer allowed back-to-back base hits by outfielders Kevin Kiermaier and Guillermo Heredia before recording strikeouts of Willy Adames and Joey Wendle.
d’Arnaud fell behind 1-2 before fouling off a pair of 101 mph fastballs to stay alive followed by taking two sliders below the zone to work the count full. Chapman’s third straight slider hung middle away and d’Arnaud was able to muscle his third home run of the game over the Yankee Stadium short porch in right field to take a 5-4 lead.
“[It was a] tremendous at-bat.” Rays manager Kevin Cash said after the game. “You can’t expect a guy to go up there and have that type of at-bat off of Chapman. He’s so tough. I mean, he’s laying off of breaking balls. He’s spoiling fastballs. It was really fun to watch.”
Chapman had previously held the Rays to a paultry .282 OPS, two runs, and eight total bases over 21 games and 69 plate appearances. d’Arnaud becomes the fifth Rays player to hit three home runs in a single game as well as the first catcher to do it against the Yankees in Major League Baseball history. The Yankees were 49-0 in 2019 when leading after the eighth inning while the Rays were 0-32 when trailing enter the ninth.
The win was the Rays’ third consecutive against the Yankees after beginning the season 2-9 against the division-leading Yankees (+5.0). C.C. Sabathia will take the hill in game two of this 4-game series on Tuesday. The Rays are expected to start opener Ryan Stanek with Jalen Beeks being called up to work the bulk innings role. First pitch will be at 7:07pm.