NEW YORK — After a rough series against the Rangers, maybe all the Rays needed to get right was another high-intensity matchup with their rabid rivals.
Or perhaps it was just the break of beating up on the worst team in the American League.
Either way it worked, as the Rays rolled to a second straight win, topping the Yankees 6-3 Saturday behind an eventful five-inning effort by Tyler Glasnow, solid bullpen work and homers from Francisco Mejia, Manuel Margot and Joey Wendle.
“I think just kind of coming here and I guess that extra whatever it is with the Yankees, but we always seem to be kind of get like turned on at the right times,” Glasnow said. “It was a good one today.”
The victory assured Tampa Bay (7-8) of a sixth straight series win over the 5-9 Yankees, with 14 wins in 17 meetings since late 2019. Add in October’s American League Division Series, and it’s seven straight series and a 17-5 record.
Do they like playing the Yankees?
“I think so,” said Margot, via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “We’ve had pretty good results against them, so I’m going to go with yes.”
Manager Kevin Cash was especially pleased with how his team responded to the challenges of playing in New York, especially after losing three straight at home to Texas.
“They’ve been uber-focused,” Cash said. “This venue can motivate you really quick and whatever you’re going through before you get here, you better find a way to wipe it out because you’ve got to be at the top of your game to compete here.”
Glasnow was not the dominant pitcher from his first three starts, including his shiny 14-strikeout performance Monday against the Rangers. The right-hander said he just felt off from the outset Saturday, using the words “weird,” “uncomfortable” and “sluggish” to try to explain it.
“From start to finish it was pretty taxing,” he said.
But he got through it, navigating a 30-pitch first inning and an odd incident during the fifth, when he was jolted into severe pain by cramping in his left hand. He was able to stay in — thanks to some water and Right Stuff electrolytes — and finish the inning, striking out Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton.
For all the drama, Glasnow had a pretty good day, allowing one run and two hits, striking out seven and walking four (more than his first three starts combined), and throwing 105 pitches. He improved to 2-0 while raising his ERA from 0.46 to 0.73.
“We talk about Tyler and how he continues to progress as a starting pitcher in this league and be very dominant,” Cash said. “That’s another step right there. Maybe the biggest step.
“He went out there, didn’t have his command. He wasn’t in sync. He just didn’t feel right, didn’t look right, perform right, anything that we had seen over the last couple starts. But he held it together enough to buy some time to get it going.”
What helped was the offensive support.
Mejia, the catcher acquired from San Diego in the Blake Snell trade, hit an opposite-field homer to right in the second to put the Rays up 1-0, then doubled in an insurance run in the ninth.
After the Yankees tied it, Margot put the Rays back on top, getting the first-pitch changeup he was expecting from starter Jordan Montgomery and launching it for a two-run homer in the fourth.
Then Wendle, after a pregame adjustment with hitting coach Chad Mottola to open his stance, delivered a two-run shot in the seventh for a 5-1 lead.
The bullpen made it a little too interesting in the seventh, as Jeffrey Springs gave up a 443-foot homer to Rougned Odor, and Collin McHugh allowed another run on a Judge double. But Ryan Thompson saved the lead by striking out Stanton to end the seventh and pitching a perfect eighth. Diego Castillo closed the game with a 1-2-3 ninth.
“It’s certainly encouraging,” Wendle said. “We had two big games to start out this series. And we came to play for both of them, which is good to see.”
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