Clint Frazier hit a game-ending, two-run homer with two outs in the 11th inning after making a game-saving catch, and the Yankees beat rival Tampa Bay Rays 5-3 on Tuesday night.
Right-hitting Frasier turned a slider from right-hander Andrew Kittredge (5-1) and stood up to the plate to praise the drive, capping a tight finish that saw both teams coming short on potential rallies.
One of those stalled attempts came in the eighth, when Frazier needed his every inch to catch Dove and Joy Wendell’s soft-hit liner to strand two.
The Yankees finished a four-game slide and beat Tampa Bay in the Bronx for the second time in 11 tries since the start of last season. The AL pre-leading Rays were four and a half games ahead of the Yankees with two games remaining in this four-game series.
Tampa Bay restricted the Yankees to three or fewer runs in seven straight matchups and won nine straight against division foes.
The Yankees offense has struggled so strongly, coach Marcus Thames joked before the game that he has bags under his eyes from a series of sleepless nights. With only six hits, it was hardly a clear success, but the team also took seven walks to secure a tight win over a division rival.
After jogging slowly around the base on his homer, Frazier tosses his helmet like a pull-up jumper as he waited at home plate beside teammates, then went on his second career walk- Jumped in with them after off homer. His second came in 2017 as a rookie.
Frazier’s homer raised his batting average to .185 during a difficult season. It was only his fifth homer and the first since May 16.
“It’s been a long season,” Frazier said. “But the people here believe in me.”
Luis Cesa (1-0) worked quickly through a perfect top of the 11th, to combine on the last three-hitter of seven Yankees pitchers. Bullpen made six hitless innings.
Blue Jays leave prospect of return to Toronto open
Blue Jays president Mark Shapiro believes there is a chance the team could finally return home to Toronto sometime this season, while warning about the decision when Canada will loosen its strict border rules. Will do
Shapiro declined to go into specifics on Tuesday, saying talks between the Blue Jays and Canadian health officials have become more frequent and “definitely more positive” in recent weeks.
Referring to the “inherent level of optimism” associated with more Canadians receiving the COVID-19 vaccine, Shapiro stressed that the most significant challenge is the closure of borders for non-essential travel.
“Just focus on the boundary, identifying anything around it is a challenge – not impossible – but a challenge,” he said. “But the only clarity exists around the border being open.”
Shapiro spoke ahead of the Blue Jays’ 5-1 win over the Miami Marlins on Tuesday, which marked Toronto’s return to play “home” games at their Class AAA colleague’s ballpark in Buffalo, NY. Humidity in Florida after playing outside their spring training venue in Dunedin for the first two months of the season.
The Blue Jays haven’t played in Toronto since closing the 2019 season with an 8-3 win over Tampa Bay on September 29.
Last year, Blue Jays were forced into a nomadic existence south of the border after Canadian health officials barred teams from crossing the border.
On Monday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his country would be in no hurry to reopen its border, which has been closed since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020. Canadians returning to their homeland are immediately required to spend 14 days in self-quarantine. .
The Blue Jays are currently committed to playing in Buffalo until July 4, which kicks off the 10-game homestand. Toronto is not scheduled to play home games again until the three-match series against Texas begins on July 16.
One change from last year is that the Blue Jays will play in front of fans in Buffalo because fans were barred from attending games. New York state is allowing about 6,600 fans — representing 35 percent of capacity — to attend games with up to 45 percent of the number of fans over two weeks.
“We will happily endure the hardship and burden to get home,” Shapiro said.