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Wil Myers hit the first inside-the-park home run of the 2014 season Sunday afternoon as the Rays beat the Yankees, 5-1, taking the rubber game of their three-game series at Yankee Stadium. The Rays have now taken two out of three in consecutive road series against the Red Sox and Yankees, winning four of their last five. However, they are still two games below .500, tied with the Red Sox, who lost to the A's in 10 innings on Sunday, with a 15-17 record.
Myers' round-tripper came with the game tied 1-1, one out and two on in the bottom of the third inning. CC Sabathia's 2-2 pitch to Myers was a changeup on the outside part of the plate that Myers hit to right-center field. Jacoby Ellsbury tracked the ball to the wall and tried to make a leaping catch, but he got there too late. The ball hit an inch from the top of the wall, ricocheted back into Ellsbury's chest, then rolled down the warning track toward right field. A full six seconds elapsed between the time the ball hit Ellsbury and right fielder Carlos Beltran retrieved it. By that time Myers, who had jogged to first base because he thought the ball would go over the fence, was halfway between second and third. Beltran's throw was then dropped by cutoff man Yangervis Solarte, and Myers, not to mention the two men in front of him, scored without a throw to give the Rays a 4-1 lead.
"I'm pretty quick," Myers told Sun Sports' Todd Kalas after the game. "Nobody gives me any credit for my speed because I don't steal many bases, but I'm not that slow."
Myers went 6-for-16 with a double, two home runs (he had a conventional one on Saturday) and seven RBI in the three-game series against the Yankees and is now hitting .333/.344/.633 in his career at the new Yankee Stadium with 16 RBI in 13 games.
Meanwhile, Myers' inside-the-park home run is yet another in support of my belief that in modern baseball, all inside-the-park home runs are plays on which errors should be assigned but are not. In this case, Ellsbury's attempt at a spectacular catch is what allowed Myers to round the bases. Had he stayed on his feet and played the ball off the wall, Myers would have had a double at best. It was the six seconds the ball spent rolling slowly across the warning track after making contact with Ellsbury that made Myers' hit a home run. In my book, that's a double and a two-base error by the center fielder. Then again, given that Myers only missed a conventional home run by an inch or two, perhaps it all evened out in the end. Myers' home run was the first inside-the-parker hit off Yankees pitching since 2007 and thus the first allowed by a Yankees pitcher at the new Yankee Stadium, which is now in its sixth season. The three previous inside-the-park home runs at the new Yankee Stadium were all hit by Yankees, two by Brett Gardner, and the most recent by Derek Jeter on July 22, 2010 off the Royals' Bruce Chen. Myers' was the 11th inside-the-park home run in Rays history, three of which were hit by Carl Crawford. The last Rays inside-the-park home run was hit by Ben Zobrist on September 25, 2011 off the Blue Jays' Brett Cecil at Tropicana Field. There were six inside-the-park home runs in the major leagues in 2013, the most recent being one hit by the Pirates' Jordy Mercer off Cincinnati's Greg Reynolds in Great American Ball Park on September 29.