NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — 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 Andújar, singled over Kevin Kiermaier’s head in deep right-center field to drive home the winning run with two outs. Luke Voit homered on the first pitch from José 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.
The Yankees’ new third baseman has picked up right where the injured Miguel Andujar left off last season for the Bronx Bombers. The 27-year-old backup is making the most of his first real opportunity to play on an everyday basis in the big leagues — sporting a sizzling .347 average in 34 games.
Andujar, who is undergoing season-ending surgery on his torn labrum, was arguably the most consistent hitter in the New York lineup a year ago.
Urshela has cushioned that loss in 2019, especially with runners in scoring position, where he’s hitting an otherworldly .429 in 28 at-bats.
Willy Adames homered off Sabathia, who pitched six effective innings, and rookie Brandon Lowe hit a tie-breaking 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.
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.
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.
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.
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)