Harrison Bader hits single as Yankees beat Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — The Yankees’ internal plan was to start Harrison Bader twice at Tropicana Field this weekend, though after missing the first month of the season, the outfielder wasn’t all that interested in the rest. His preparation to enter the game, he said, began the second he woke up on Saturday morning.

Indeed, in the middle of the afternoon, Bader came off the bench in a large square. Playing in just his fourth game since being activated from the injured list, Bader continued to make an impact, delivering two hits – including a two-run single – as the Yankees rallied for a 3-2 victory over the Rays. .

“I don’t think there’s ever really a day off scheduled when you get to the yard,” Bader said. “You may not be in the starting lineup, but at some point I planned to have the chance to go there. You always have to prepare as if you were starting; be brief and do good to the team.

Bader’s eighth-inning shot, a 179-foot corner shot to right field from reliever Kevin Kelly, chased Gleyber Torres and DJ LeMahieu to provide New York with its first series lead. The advantage held as Clay Holmes threw a scoreless eighth and Ian Hamilton worked around a brace in the ninth for his first Major League save.

“You know how hard it is to play here and against this team, with the quality of their play,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “I know we’re in a tough spot right now and we’ve beaten, but I know these guys are in competition. That’s what I want us to keep telling them. It’s not easy right now, and that’s okay, but we’re competing with our asses.

Although Boone said the comments surrounding Holmes’ recent struggles have “not [been] indicative of how he throws the ball,” he bypassed the 2022 All-Star in favor of Hamilton, a 27-year-old right-hander with confusing pitch (the club calls him a “slambio,” a combination of slider and changethe Spanish word for change).

Hamilton slotted a slambio that Jose Siri tied to the center court wall for a long flyout, then settled in to sail around Luke Raley’s two-out double.

“It was a bit unexpected,” said Hamilton, who last closed a game in college at Washington State University. “Every inning you’re just trying to get three out, so you’re trying to simplify it like that. But having it in the ninth inning was definitely a different feeling. It took me a little longer to calm down. »

Domingo Germán battled to limit the Rays to two runs in five innings – both scoring on Manuel Margot’s first-inning double – and Yankees pitchers broke free from hairy runs in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings , leaving New York trailing by two points toward eighth.

“The first round was intense; lots of pitches [27]Germán said through an interpreter. “I was able to make the adjustments I needed to make on the mound and stay in the game.”

Given their opponent’s early season success, the Yankees’ chances of a comeback seemed dim. Tampa Bay was 22-0 on first base this season, tying the 1884 St. Louis Maroons for the longest such winning streak to start a campaign.

Anthony Rizzo hit a one-out single to chase Jalen Beeks, and Torres greeted Kelly with a single before LeMahieu drilled a brace in the right field corner. After a popout, Bader connected with his second hit of the game, after coming in with a pinch single in the seventh.

“I was joking with him like, ‘You couldn’t lob them better than that,'” Boone said. “He is very fun to be around. He likes to play the game; he likes to compete. He was ready to play the whole game. He loves competition and he’s happy to be back.

While stars like Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Josh Donaldson remain on the injured list, the Yankees have missed Bader, who missed the club’s first 30 games of the regular season after suffering a left oblique strain in early March.

Bader hit a game-tying three-run homer in Friday’s series opener, scoring his first regular-season homer in a Yankees uniform; he hit five in the playoffs last year.

“We fight, and we just find our rhythm,” Bader said. “It’s the start of the season. If this is the worst baseball we’ll play all season, then I think we’re in a pretty good position. We play with confidence and wins like this definitely create momentum for tomorrow.

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