NEW YORK – The Yankees were poised to extend their recent misery on a long night against the Rays. Then one swing from Josh Donaldson changed everything.
Donaldson hit a walk-off grand slam in the 10th inning as the clock struck midnight, and struggling New York salvaged an 8-7 win over Tampa Bay on Wednesday night to avoid a three-game sweep.
Gleyber Torres singled leading off the 10th off Jalen Beeks (2-2) and Anthony Rizzo walked before Donaldson lifted a one-strike, 97 mph fastball to the short porch in right field. He flipped his bat and raised his arms immediately after he connected.
“The guys were pumped,” Donaldson said. “I think just how the game progressed and how the back-and-forth battle happened there, and we were able to kind of come back there with our backs against the wall. I definitely think there was some release of some joy and some frustration over the past couple of weeks for sure.”
Oswaldo Cabrera, recalled from the minors earlier Wednesday, was in the on-deck circle, and Donaldson gave the 23-year-old third baseman a chest bump as part of his celebration.
It was Donaldson’s eighth career game-ending homer and first since Sept. 27, 2015, with Toronto — also to beat Tampa Bay.
“I felt like off the bat right away (it was gone),” New York manager Aaron Boone said. “Right away I felt like it was a homer but I needed to see it go over.”
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Donaldson became the third Yankee — joining Babe Ruth and Jason Giambi — to hit a game-ending grand slam with New York trailing by at least three runs in extra innings.
“There’s not too many better feelings in the world than hitting a walk-off home run,” Donaldson said.
Aroldis Chapman (2-3) gave up three runs in the top of the 10th for New York, which entered having lost three straight and 12 of 15.
But the Yankees finally got some help from their offense, scoring more than three runs in a game for the first time since Aug. 8. New York had totaled one run in its previous three games.
.The Rays led 4-2 when the game was stopped by rain with one out in the top of the seventh. The ensuing 1-hour, 3-minute delay was worth it for the Yankees, who ended Tampa Bay’s four-game winning streak.
Although the Yankees are 9-16 since the All-Star break, their AL East lead moved back to 10 games over Tampa Bay and Toronto. New York has led the division by double digits for all but two days since June 13.
"For being the regular season and being August, that was a special one,” Boone said.
Rizzo led off the eighth with a homer off Brooks Raley to tie it at 4-4. The game went to extra innings when Ryan Thompson retired major league home run leader Aaron Judge on a warning-track flyball.
Chapman relieved Scott Effross with one out in the 10th and issued two walks to load the bases. With two outs, Francisco Mejía sliced a 101 mph, 0-2 fastball down the right-field line for a bases-clearing double.
“It’s that kind of block hit over there and it’s just inside the line,” Boone said. “It’s kind of like a gut punch right there but credit to the guys it’s like, ‘Hey, let’s keep fighting.’”
The Rays were three outs away from completing a three-game sweep in New York for the third straight season and fifth time in team history.
“He got me,” Beeks said. “It was a good swing.”
Yandy Díaz matched a season high with three RBIs, hitting an RBI double in the third and a two-run double in the fifth off Yankees starter Domingo Germán.
Tampa Bay’s Harold Ramírez added a solo homer in the sixth in his second game back from a fractured right thumb.
Torres started New York’s comeback with a two-run homer in the sixth off Corey Kluber. Judge’s bases-loaded walk in the seventh got the Yankees within 4-3, but Pete Fairbanks got Torres to hit into an inning-ending double play.
Kluber allowed two runs and four hits in six innings.
Germán allowed three runs and five hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Tampa Bay jumped ahead with one out in the first when Díaz doubled over left fielder Andrew Benintendi and Jose Siri scored from first when the Yankees missed the cutoff man.
The Rays had three straight one-out hits in the fifth and took a 3-0 lead when Díaz doubled down the left-field line. Ramírez opened the sixth by reaching the left field seats for his fifth homer.
A NINETIES FIRST
For the first time in franchise history, the Yankees started three players wearing jersey numbers in the 90s.
Besides Judge’s No. 99, Cabrera was given No. 95 and Estevan Florial was wearing No. 90.
New York has four players with numbers above 90. Reliever Ron Marinaccio wears No. 97.
Rays: SS Wander Franco (right hamate bone) was held out of Triple-A Durham’s lineup with soreness in the hand. He is expected to resume his rehab assignment Thursday.
Yankees: INF DJ LeMahieu (right big toe) did not start for the fourth straight game singled as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. LeMahieu said he expects to start Thursday. ... OF/DH Giancarlo Stanton (Achilles tendon) could begin a rehab assignment this weekend and may return next week. ... RHP Clay Holmes (back), who last pitched Friday, was placed on the injured list.
Rays: Open a four-game series against visiting Kansas City Thursday. The Rays did not announce a starter.
Yankees: RHP Frankie Montas (4-9, 3.59 ERA) will make his home debut in the opener of a four-game series against Toronto RHP José Berríos (8-5, 5.61) on Thursday.
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