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Yankees stay hot, beat Rays to move closer to 1st place

New York Daily News logo New York Daily News 5/11/2019 Kristie Ackert
a batter catcher and umpire during a baseball game © Steve Nesius

ST. PETERSBURG — Aaron Boone spent most of his pregame trying to explain what made DJ LeMahieu so valuable — with his bat. The utility infielder has been crucial to the Yankees this season, driving in runs in big spots as the team survives its injury epidemic.

Friday night, he reminded everyone just how good his glove is too. A former Gold Glove second baseman, LeMahieu made a huge double play in the seventh inning to preserve the Yankees’ important 4-3 win over the Rays at Tropicana Field Friday night.

BOX SCORE: YANKEES 4, RAYS 3

The Yankees (23-15) have won two straight and 15 of their last 20. They move a season-high eight games above .500 and closed to within half of a game of the American League East-leading Rays (23-14).

“Anytime you are playing a team in your division as good as the Rays, I think adds a little something to it over the course of a long season,” Boone said. “But it is a long season. You try as best you can to stay emotionally constant as you can and treat every day as important, but not going on the wave too much.

“We know we’re up against a really good club, obviously a really good pitcher going tonight,” Boone continued. “We have our work cut out for us and hopefully we’ll go out and support Domingo [German] tonight and put our best foot forward.”

LeMahieu had his 11-game hitting streak snapped Friday, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a run scored. He contributed to the offense with savvy base-running, though. He reached on third baseman Yandy Diaz’s throwing error in the first. With the bases loaded, he scored on a passed ball for the Yankees’ first run.

In the seventh, with Adam Ottavino having loaded the bases, LeMahieu perfectly read a come-backer that hit off the pitcher’s thigh. He grabbed it, stepped on second base and as he was falling toward third, fired a perfect throw to first to get Ji-Man Choi and end the inning.

It’s all the things — defense, baserunning and clutch hitting — that the Yankees were looking at when they signed LeMahieu to a two-year deal this winter.

“I’d seen a good amount of him over the years, always kind of admired his game. One of those pros’ pro, really good defensively, runs the bases well and a tough out at the plate,” Boone said. “He’s just a really solid player. Felt like I knew we were getting that when we were able to get him this winter. He’s more than delivered it.”

German picked up his fourth straight win to lead the majors with seven wins. He surpassed the Rays’ Friday night starter Tyler Glasnow, who left the game in the top of the sixth inning with forearm tightness. German allowed three runs on five hits. He struck out seven and walked two in five innings.

After allowing just two home runs in his first 42 innings pitched this season, German allowed two in a third of an inning. He gave up a two-run shot to Austin Meadows followed by a solo homer by Ji-Man Choi, and in the process gave back the two-run lead the Yankees had given him.

In the top of the sixth, Gio Urshela grabbed it back.

Gary Sanchez led off with a Tropicana Field special, an extremely high pop up that hit off the “A,” or inner-most, ring at the top of the domed ceiling. The ricochet confused the Rays’ infielders and landed for a single. Clint Frazier singled, and Miguel Andujar snapped an 0-for-18 streak to load the bases.

Urshela has been incredibly productive for the Yankees with runners in scoring position and even more so with the bases loaded, Urshela battled Emilio Pagan until he lined the seventh pitch of the at-bat into left field.

Urshela is now 9-for-23 with 10 RBI with RISP in 23 plate appearances this season. He’s 2-for-2 with four RBI with the bases loaded.

Related slideshow: 2019 MLB season (provided by imagn)

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