NEW YORK — CC Sabathia shouted salty insults at the Tampa Bay Rays and said he tried to hit one of their batters, but both sides otherwise kept cool as the New York Yankees rallied for a 4-3 victory Friday night on Gio Urshela’s game-ending single.
New York scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning and moved into first place in the AL East.
Urshela, subbing spectacularly for injured third baseman Miguel Andujar, singled over Kevin Kiermaier’s head in deep right-centre field to drive home the winning run with two outs. Luke Voit homered on the first pitch from Jose Alvarado (0-3) to make it 3-2, and New York tied it when pinch-runner Thairo Estrada scored on Alvarado’s bases-loaded wild pitch.
Voit and Urshela had three hits apiece. Kendrys Morales clubbed an early solo shot for his first home run since joining the Yankees.
Willy Adames homered off Sabathia, who pitched six effective innings, and rookie Brandon Lowe hit a tiebreaking double against Chad Green with two outs in the eighth. Tampa Bay added another run on shortstop Gleyber Torres’ throwing error before rain caused a 35-minute delay in the bottom of the inning.
Torres doubled in the ninth to put runners at second and third with one out.
Jonathan Holder (3-1) struck out two in a perfect inning for the win.
With their fourth straight victory and ninth in 11 games, the injury-ravaged Yankees surged into the division lead for the first time since a March 30 loss.
Tampa Bay had been alone in first place since the end of games on March 31.
The unfriendly rivals play twice more this weekend after New York took two of three from the Rays last weekend at Tropicana Field.
Sabathia threw three inside pitches to Austin Meadows, including one right near the knees, before walking him with two outs and nobody on in the fifth. As he was coming off the field, a camera caught Sabathia telling teammates he “was definitely trying to hit” Meadows.
After striking out Lowe with his final pitch in the sixth, the big lefty cursed and yelled a nasty phrase in the Rays’ direction.
Sabathia got into heated exchanges with the Rays the previous two times he faced them — once last year, once this season — when he grew angry over pitches that either hit or went behind New York batters.
In his final start last season, Sabathia was ejected at Tropicana Field and handed a five-game suspension for plunking Jesus Sucre with a pitch after Andrew Kittredge of the Rays threw behind Austin Romine.
Despite the latest verbal antics by the 38-year-old Sabathia, who plans to retire after this season, there was no trouble on the field.
Rays: Yandy Diaz was back in the lineup at first base after leaving Wednesday’s game in Miami with a sore left ankle. … Guillermo Heredia (bruised right hand) started in centre field. He was hit by a pitch Wednesday, but X-rays were negative. … C Anthony Bemboom, who sprained his left knee Wednesday, was placed on the 10-day injured list and is expected to miss four to six weeks, manager Kevin Cash said. That opened a 25-man roster spot for catcher Erik Kratz, acquired Thursday from San Francisco with $471,613 for a player to be named or cash. RHP Aaron Slegers was designated for assignment Thursday to make room on the 40-man roster for Kratz. … RHP Hunter Wood (sore right shoulder) struck out three in one inning of a rehab outing Thursday for Class A Charlotte and is “real close” to returning, Cash said.
Yankees: LHP James Paxton (left knee inflammation) won’t come off the injured list in time to start Sunday’s series finale, manager Aaron Boone said. He is expected to throw another bullpen in the next few days and could return to the rotation on the upcoming road trip next week.
A rematch Saturday afternoon between 2018 AL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell (3-4, 3.56 ERA) and Yankees RHP Masahiro Tanaka (3-3, 3.44). Snell struck out 12 over 5 2/3 innings last Sunday at Tropicana Field but lost 7-1 to Tanaka, who went seven innings.
Tanaka is 9-4 with a 3.54 ERA in 15 career starts against the Rays. Snell, who made his major league debut at Yankee Stadium in April 2016, is 3-5 with a 4.25 ERA in 12 outings vs. New York, his most frequent opponent, and has never gone more than 5 2/3 innings against the Bronx Bombers. He is 1-4 with a 5.63 ERA at Yankee Stadium. Tampa Bay is 3-5 in Snell’s starts this season.