The Tampa Bay Rays (17-9) scored eight runs between the fifth and sixth innings to complete a three-game sweep of the New York Yankees (16-9) on Thursday afternoon, 10-5, while nabbing a half-game lead in the American League East.
It’s the first time since 2017 that the Yankees were swept in a three-or-more-game series at home.
James Paxton’s pattern of allowing three runs per start didn’t waver on Thursday afternoon, allowing three earned runs for the fifth-straight start — all coming in the fifth inning — after going the first 4.1 innings without allowing a hit.
It spoiled a promising start, which featured eight strikeouts and just one hit allowed, but he also walked four on the day to help squander an early lead.
Luke Voit’s power surge continued immediately, launching a first-inning solo home run to dead center to give the Yankees the lead.
It was the fourth-straight game in which Voit recorded a round-tripper and his 10th on the year, tying him for second in MLB with Mike Trout, trailing only Fernando Tatis Jr.
After giving up a walk to Clint Frazier and a single to Erik Kratz in the second, the Rays pulled their opener, John Curtiss, for Trevor Richards, who managed to get out of the jam and keep it a one-run game for the Rays.
They would add another in the third when Gleyber Torres’ hard groundout managed to score Mike Tauchman from third. But it was a costly RBI, as Torres stumbled while running down the line, prompting him to leave the game early.
The Yankees announced that Torres is suffering from a tight left hamstring and will undergo an MRI.
Paxton’s ran into trouble in the fifth inning when he walked Willy Adames — for the second time of the day — and Manuel Margot with one out in the frame.
After bouncing a pitch off the chest of Kratz against Joey Weddle, Adames was able to move to third.
His shutout and early no-hit bid ended as badly as he could have wanted. Weddle slapped a double the other way down the left-field line to score both Adames and Margot to tie the game while the relay throw home allowed the Rays’ left-hander to advance to third. He scored on Mike Brosseau’s sacrifice fly to give Tampa the lead.
Gio Urshela answered to put the Yankees up 4-3 when he turned on the very first pitch thrown by Diego Castillo — who relieved Richards after allowing a single to Voit — and deposited the inside pitch into the left-field seats.
Tampa punched right back, though, breaking the game open in the sixth by posting five off Adam Ottavino and Luis Avilan — which featured a third RBI on the day by Weddle, who doubled, and a three-run home run by Mike Zunino.
Voit pulled one back in the bottom of the inning with an RBI single, but it was canceled out in the ninth when Yandy Diaz provided an exclamation point to the Tampa Bay sweep, smacking a two-run home run off Luis Cessa.