The New York Yankees took two of three games this weekend to win their first series of the season against the Tampa Bay Rays, who are currently tied with the Yankees in wins (24) but sit a half-game ahead in first place in the AL East.

Tanaka Yankees
NY Yankees Masahiro Tanaka on the mound against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Image: AP)

The Yankees (22-15) came into the series with 22 wins and trailing the first-place Rays (23-13). The Yankees won the first game 4-3, dropped Game 2 by the score of 7-2, but won the rubber-match 7-1 on Sunday.

The Mother’s Day game also featured a peculiar 43-minute delay due to a power outage at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. The Yankees were ahead 3-1 at the top of the ninth when the lights went out. When the lights finally came on, rookie Thairo Estrada hit a solo home run to put the Yankees ahead 4-1. Gio Urshela, one of the many unsung heroes playing for the Replacement Yankees, knocked in two more insurance runs during the post-blackout rally.

German vs. Glasnow

In the battle of the six-win pitchers, Domingo German edged out Tyler Glasnow in Game 1 to become the first 7-game winner in the big leagues. Glasnow was a perfect 6-0 coming into the series with the Yankees. He gave up 3 runs in 5.1 innings and left the game prematurely due to tightness in his arm. The next day, the Rays sent him on the 30-day IL.

German is now 7-1 with a 2.70 ERA and 0.95 WHIP. German is only in the rotation because Luis Severino, the Yankees Ace, was sidelined during Spring Training.

Tanaka vs. Snell

Masahiro Tanaka improved to 3-3 with his best outing of the season. Tanaka went seven innings and found his splitter, which had been absent all season. He outdueled the reigning Cy Young winner, Blake Snell. Tanaka scattered five hits and allowed just one run on a solo HR from Austin Meadows.

Snell struck out 12 Yanks, but they managed to get two runs off him in 5.1 innings. In the top of the fifth, Austin Romine and Mike Tauchman ignited a two-out rally with back-to-back doubles. DJ LeMahieu knocked in Tauchman with an RBI single to put the Yanks ahead 2-0.

Replacements Held the Line

The Yankees had 16 players spend time on the injured list this season with Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, Dellin Betances, and Luis Severino still out.

Centerfielder Aaron Hicks is due back to the Bronx on Monday. He’s the second regular player from the IL to return in the last week. Miguel Andujar’s shoulder tear healed quicker than expected. Aaron Boone inserted last year’s starting third baseman Andujar into the lineup as the DH.

Gio Urshela earned himself a starting job at third base as the Yankees best infielder along with his unexpected hitting prowess. Urshela is hitting .341 in 32 games with a .505 slugging percentage. He’s also had a hit in 15 of his last eight games, including five multi-hit games.

“More guys just continue to step up,” said manager Aaron Boone. “It’s not easy for us right now. We’ve got to grind and scratch for everything.”

The Yankees are 18-7 over their last 25 games since starting the season 6-9. The Yanks turned everything around when Brett Gardner hit a dramatic grand slam over the defending champion Boston Red Sox in mid-April.

Three-Way Race: Yanks, Rays, and Sox

The Yanks and Rays are now competing for the first team in the AL East to win 30 games. After a slow start, the Boston Red Sox (22-19) are surging with 8 wins in their last ten games. Maybe the Red Sox banning Fortnite in the locker room actually helped them cure their World Series hangover?

AL EAST STANDINGS
Tampa Bay 24-15
New York 24-16
Boston 22-19
Toronto 16-24
Baltimore 14-26

The Yanks have seven games against the last-place Baltimore Orioles (14-26) in the next 11 days. They also host the Tampa Rays this weekend in the Bronx for their second series of the season.

According to the South Point Casino and Sports Book, the LA Dodgers and Houston Astros are 5/1 odds to win the 2019 World Series. The Yankees are 6/1 odds to win the World Series. The Red Sox are 9/1 odds to repeat. Meanwhile, the Tampa Rays are 15/1 odds to dethrone the Sox.

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