Slumping Gary Sanchez capped a seven-run top of the third inning with a three-run homer as the New York Yankees moved closer to securing home-field advantage in the American League wild-card game with a 9-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Sanchez, who tied a season high with four RBIs, gave the Yankees a 7-0 lead when he lifted a 3-1 fastball just above the knees from Jalen Beeks into the left-center-field seats.
He entered the third-inning at-bat with one hit in his last 28 at-bats and a .179 season average. It was Sanchez’s 17th homer this year, his third since returning from a second disabled-list stint earlier this month and first since Sept. 10 at Minnesota.
Sanchez’s blast helped the Yankees (97-60) lower their magic number to three to ensure they will face the Oakland Athletics at Yankee Stadium in the wild-card game on Oct. 3. New York began the day with a 1 1/2-game lead over Oakland, which was visiting Seattle later Tuesday.
Adeiny Hechavarria started the third inning by homering off Jake Faria (4-4). Following Hechavarria’s second homer as a Yankee and sixth on the year, Luke Voit hit an RBI double off Andrew Kittredge before Beeks entered. Neil Walker drew a bases-loaded walk, and Miguel Andujar lifted a sacrifice fly ahead of Sanchez’s blast.
Sanchez added an RBI single in the fifth to give the Yankees an 8-2 lead. Andujar hit a solo homer in the ninth to cap the scoring, giving the Yankees 255 homers, nine shy of matching the major league record set by the 1997 Seattle Mariners.
Luis Severino (19-8) allowed a two-run double to Brandon Lowe in the third among four hits in five-plus innings. Severino, who walked three and struck out seven, won his second straight start and joined Tampa Bay’s Blake Snell (21) and Cleveland’s Corey Kluber (20) as the third pitcher with more than 18 wins this year.
The Yankees, who were without Aaron Hicks (hamstring) and Gleyber Torres (hip), won for the sixth time in eight games.
Faria allowed three runs on four hits in 2 1/3 innings. He was lifted after fielding a hard lineout from Aaron Judge with the Yankees up 1-0.
Tampa Bay’s only threat against Severino occurred in the third when they loaded the bases with no outs. Lowe doubled to drive in two, but Ji-Man Choi was thrown out at the plate and collided with Sanchez.
Choi left the game and was being checked for a concussion. He also had stitches on his left ear for a laceration.
–Field Level Media