ST. PETERSBURG — Hours after he was scratched from the starting lineup, Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge delivered a go-ahead base hit in extra innings, the decisive blow in a 3-1 Yankees victory over the Rays.
Judge appeared midway through the game in the visitor's dugout at Tropicana Field, entering the game as a pinch-hitter in the fifth inning. The slugger punched out in both of his first two at-bats, but when it was his turn in the 10th inning with two runners on, he got the job done.
A bouncing ball through the middle skipped off the end of Rays shortstop Wander Franco's glove, skipping into shallow center field. That allowed Gio Urshela to scamper home from second base as New York took a 2-1 lead.
After Tampa Bay's Pete Fairbanks left the game with an injury following Judge's at-bat, Andrew Kittredge's second pitch to DJ LeMahieu was ticketed for the backstop, allowing Greg Allen to score from third without a play.
Following the victory both Judge and his manager explained that the right fielder was undergoing tests off-site and was delayed in getting back to the ballpark before first pitch.
As much as the doctors appointment were frustrating and put a wrench in things, Judge was able to make his presence felt once he was able to suit up and take the field.
"Better late than never," Judge said. "Excited I was able to get here when I did, come into the game, help out the team late there in the 10th."
With a two-run cushion, Yankees closer Aroldis Chapman struck out two in the bottom half of the 10th, earning his 20th save of the season. It's his second scoreless inning and save in as many nights after an impressive ninth inning on Tuesday evening.
The victory gives New York a series win, taking the first two in a three-game set fresh off a disappointing and demoralizing performance in Boston against the Red Sox. They'll look for the series sweep on Thursday afternoon with ace Gerrit Cole on the mound.
A win over their division rivals also makes New York's trade for Joey Gallo taste even sweeter. The Yankees are reportedly set to acquire the slugger from the Texas Rangers in a massive blockbuster deal, although neither team has officially announced the transaction yet. News of the trade broke early on during Wednesday night's game.
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