Two of the top MLS bowlers squared off in the Bronx on Wednesday night, and as with most things lately, the Yankees took the lead.
A few moments of nervousness late in the event couldn’t get in the way of the Yankees’ 30-game jump over .500.
Nestor Curtis rebounded from a rare poor start and the Yankees took advantage of another Rys error to pounce on Shane McClanahan on his way to a 4-3 victory.
“They found ways to win,” said manager Aaron Boone. “Obviously we’ve had some players who’ve had a great start to their season individually, but everyone in that room contributed in a lot of different ways: defending, running the bases, off the pen, starting the rotation. Just a lot of different ways we’ve been able to win games. I think. That gives everyone a lot of confidence every single day knowing we don’t have to do it just one way.”
For the Yankees (46-16) to win their sixth straight win, it took contributions from a few of these players who have had outstanding seasons: Curtis (6-2) gave up one over 5 innings/₃ to drop his ERA to 1.94, Aaron Judge dug his 25th career home and Clay Holmes closed his eleventh save With his points-free streak extended to 30 innings.
It also required Kyle Higashioka to crush a McClanahan three-pointer in the fifth inning. The blast came after quarterback Brett Phillips made a costly foul on the field and Rise (35-27) intentionally ran Isaiah Keener-Valiva with two ends to get to the Musk Yankees.
“It feels like a judge and [Giancarlo Stanton] said Higashioka, who beat Homer in two games after going without one in his first 34. “We know this has to happen at some point and we’re all happy with the progress.”
Higashioka then had the best view at home for diver Holmes, who cleared Rays after the lead man reached ninth on a bobble ball by Anthony Rizzo at first base.
“It’s kind of a unicorn pitch,” Higashioka said. “I find it hard to catch up with him, so I can’t imagine what it would be like trying to hit him.”
Curtis zoomed in through five rounds while only allowing three starting riders and entering sixth after retiring eight in a row before running out of steam. However, it was a solid rebound from last Wednesday in Minnesota, when the four-stroke twins hit him on seven strokes in 4 // innings.
After Wandy Peralta provided a 1²/round of rest, the Yankees nearly spoiled Curtis’ strong night in the eighth inning, which included a 16-minute delay as Boone attempted a field change. The referees had an extended meeting to make sure that was allowed, as coach Matt Blake had just visited the hill without Miguel Castro throwing ground in between. But as Rays was pummeling Ji-Man Choi, the judges eventually allowed Boone to call left-handed Lucas Luetge with two on and two out.
Luetge got in and succumbed to back-to-back RBI songs, but slipped to carry Phillips out with the lead still intact.
A dominant outing from Holmes later, the Yankees climbed to 30 games over 0.500.
“It’s unbelievable,” Curtis said. But we don’t expect anything less. With this group of guys that we have here, it’s very special and we can continue to do big things.”
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