HomeSportsRyan Yarbrough Finishes What He Started Against Yankees

Ryan Yarbrough Finishes What He Started Against Yankees

Ryan Yarbrough became a big leaguer at a time when the highest esteem was reserved for pitchers who started games and those that finished them.

The Tampa Bay Rays left-hander has helped transform baseball in a role that does neither, and so he knows how rare a chance he got Thursday when Manager Kevin Cash gave him back the ball with the chance to start and finish the ninth inning.

“My whole mission was just to get all three,” Yarbrough said.

Yarbrough ended a 24-start winless skid with Tampa Bay’s first complete game in more than five years, Austin Meadows homered off shaky Gerrit Cole and drove in five runs, and the Rays beat the Yankees, 9-2, Thursday.

Yarbrough (3-3), best known as Tampa Bay’s go-to bulk man in the early days of the opener, hadn’t won a start since Aug. 11, 2019. He threw a career-high 8 ⅔ innings that day, but with the Rays’ clinging to a 1-0 lead over Seattle, Cash yanked him after just 100 pitches.

Staked to a big lead this time, Yarbrough was allowed to finish out with a career-most 113 pitches.

“It kind of comes full circle, I guess,” Yarbrough said.

Tampa Bay had gone a major league record streak of 731 games without a complete game since Matt Andriese’s two-hit shutout of Oakland on May 14, 2016. Toronto now has gone the longest at 231 games.

“Our team put us in a really good chance for me to do that,” Yarbrough said. “With how we do things, with a close lead, that’s not going to be able to happen.”

The A.L. East-leading Rays salvaged a four-game split, improving to 10-3 at Yankee Stadium since the start of last season. New York fell 4 ½ games back of Tampa Bay and has dropped seven of 10 entering their first series this year against the rival Red Sox.

Yarbrough escaped a key jam in the fourth and allowed solo homers to Brett Gardner and Miguel Andujar, but otherwise cruised.

The 29-year-old gave up two runs and six hits, walked none and struck out six.

“I’m sure he was probably sucking a little wind there in the eighth and ninth innings,” Cash said. “But I hope it’s something he wanted because we really appreciated him being able to complete it.”

Yarbrough took advantage of a favorable zone from plate umpire Chad Whitson, stealing several strikes off the outside corner. Yankees Manager Aaron Boone was ejected after berating Whitson during a pitching change in the seventh.

“I wanted to just get my point across,” Boone said. “I thought there were some close pitches, but the Rays outplayed us today.”

Asked about his effectiveness in that area, Yarbrough said “you worry about what you can control.”

Meadows homered three times in the series, including a go-ahead, two-run drive off Cole in the fourth inning. He added a three-run double off Nick Nelson in the seventh.

Cole (6-3) matched a season worst by allowing five runs in five innings. He entered with an A.L.-best 1.78 E.R.A. and dominated Tampa Bay in their previous meeting, striking out 12 in eight scoreless innings May 12.

He wasn’t nearly as sharp Thursday. Meadows put the Rays up 2-1 in the fourth, and Tampa Bay made it 5-1 an inning later on Brandon Lowe’s R.B.I. single and Yandy Díaz’s two-run hit.

Cole was replaced in the sixth after 92 pitches. He struck out seven, walked two and allowed five hits. He said he struggled to command his fastball, and that compounded issues created by what he perceived to be an inconsistent strike zone.

“Just underneath the ball a little bit today,” he said.

Meadows has five homers in seven games and 14 for the season. He leads the team with 44 R.B.I.

Yarbrough allowed no-out hits to Aaron Judge and Gio Urshela in the fourth but stranded both to preserve a 2-1 lead. Rougned Odor popped out to foul territory, then Yarbrough struck out Clint Frazier and Andujar with the runners at second and third.

Gardner’s homer was his first of the season. Andujar’s shot was his third this year, all in this four-game series.

Yankees slugger Giancarlo Stanton was held out of the lineup for the second time in three days. He’s 1 for 16 with nine strikeouts in five games since returning from a left quadriceps strain.


Most Popular