NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Cameron Maybin homered again with his roster spot in doubt, Edwin Encarnación went deep for his first hit with the Yankees and New York beat the Tampa Bay Rays 6-3 Tuesday night to extend its AL East lead to 2 1/2 games.
Playing through a mist in a contest that started over an hour late due to rain, New York won its fourth straight and has taken 9 of 12 against the second-place Rays dating to last season.
Gary Sanchez had two RBIs and J.A. Happ (7-3) pitched two-run ball over five innings. Giancarlo Stanton returned from the injured list to play right field and reached into the seats in foul territory for a key out in the second.
Maybin clobbered Oliver Drake’s fastball into the second deck in left, extending New York’s lead to 5-3 in the seventh. It was Maybin’s career-best fourth straight game with a homer and extended New York’s homer streak to 21 games.
The 32-year-old Maybin is hitting .315 since being acquired by the banged-up Yankees in April, but he still may get cut when All-Star slugger Aaron Judge returns from an oblique injury in the coming days.
“I’m thankful I’m here and enjoying every moment of it,” Maybin said.
It’s the latest tough decision New York’s coaching staff will have to make after sending down one of their hottest hitters – Clint Frazier – to make room for Stanton.
Ryne Stanek recorded four outs as the opener, allowing one run on Sanchez’s sacrifice fly. Ryan Yarbrough followed and retired nine of ten, his only blip a check-swing single by Luke Voit before being lifted with one out in the fifth.
The Yankees then broke through against Chaz Roe (0-3) behind RBI singles from DJ LeMahieu, Voit and Sanchez to take a 4-2 lead. LeMahieu continues to be lethal with runners in scoring position, hitting a league-best .460 in those at-bats this season.
Acquired from Seattle on Saturday, Encarnación’s first hit in pinstripes came in grand fashion, clubbing his AL-leading 22nd homer off Andrew Kittredge in the eighth.
Happ struck out three and is 6-0 in his last eight starts, dating to May 9. The lefty also did not give up a home run for the first time since that May 9 start. Until Tuesday, he had given up at least one long ball is six straight outings
Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth on twelve pitches for his 19th save in 21 chances.
The Rays lost back-to-back road games for just the second time this season.
Stanton was 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his first big league action since Mar. 31. The former NL MVP was activated from the injured list before the game.
RHP Domingo German (left hip flexor strain) played catch on flat ground both Monday and Tuesday.
RHP Dellin Betances (right shoulder impingement) still has discomfort from a lat strain and is unsure when he’ll resume throwing.
RHP Luis Severino (rotator cuff inflammation in right shoulder) has begun throwing up to 105 feet and expects to throw off a mound next week.
Judge (left oblique strain) was 1-for-2 with a home run for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. After the game, manager Aaron Boone said the former Rookie of the Year could be back in the majors by Friday.
A battle of Cy Young Award winning left-handers is set for Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, with Rays ace Blake Snell (4-5, 3.70 ERA) facing off against veteran CC Sabathia (3-4, 4.42 ERA).
(© Copyright 2019 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)