The forecast called for rain and the Yankees brought the thunder.
With storms expected to come later in the evening, the Yankees’ offense wasted no time at the plate. In what was a “getaway game” for the Rays with a flight to Oakland scheduled after the game, the Yankees made them want to do just that within the first 45 minutes.
The Yankees’ prolific offense opened Wednesday’s afternoon game with a six-run first inning at Yankee Stadium, en route to a 12-1 victory to complete a three-game sweep over the Rays.
“We have a really good offense,” infielder DJ LeMahieu said. “And it really doesn’t matter who is out there, we have a chance to score a lot of runs.”
And LeMahieu was at the forefront of the Yankees’ early production. He opened the game with a single and added a two-out, two-run single for the final runs of the opening inning. He also recorded his 24th two-out RBI of the season, trailing only Houston’s Alex Bregman (25) through the conclusion of the game.
The Yankees (46-27) chased 2018 AL Cy Young winner Blake Snell in the opening frame after recording only one out. Snell threw just 19 of his 39 pitches for strikes with four walks before he was replaced trailing 3-0 with the bases loaded and one out. Reliever Colin Poche didn’t fare much better, allowing all three inherited runners to score.
“That’s the ultimate job of controlling the strike zone right there,” manager Aaron Boone said. “I think [Snell] normally gets chases on a lot of those pitches and because we controlled the strike zone so well, he ends up throwing 39 pitches that inning and we got him out of there.”
The first four batters of the game reached base for the Yankees, highlighted by Gary Sanchez’s three-run home run as the third batter of the game. The Yankees had 11 hitters come to the plate in the first inning.
“Obviously [there’s] that big home run, but more than that, it’s just every guy putting on a really tough at-bat against him and [we] wore down one of the game’s best pitchers,” Boone said. “I thought it was a clinic of our guys controlling the zone.”
The Yankees continued to show the ability to score in bunches with a six-run seventh-inning, highlighted by Gleyber Torres’ first-career grand slam. The long ball capped a streak of six straight batters reaching base safely in an inning where the Yankees, again, sent 11 batters to the plate.
“I just feel like any guy in this lineup can get the job done at any point,” first baseman Luke Voit said.
The Yankees entered the series Monday with a half-game lead over Tampa Bay, and now lead the American League East by 3.5 games with Aaron Judge expected to return to the lineup before the end of the week. They begin a four-game series against Houston at Yankee Stadium Thursday.
“Obviously we are getting healthier,” Boone said. “We feel good about where we’re at as a club. And the lineup we are running out there right now obviously can inflict some damage.”