NEW YORK — Aaron Judge hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning, Didi Gregorius followed with a grand slam and the New York Yankees beat Tampa Bay 8-3 Tuesday night after another surly clash between CC Sabathia and the Rays.
A pitch after slicing a would-be homer foul by about two feet, Judge smashed a 3-2 pitch from left-hander Colin Poche (2-3) into the right-center field seats to make it 4-3. It was Judge’s 10th homer, and he carried the bat nearly all the way to first base before tossing it down and shouting into New York’s dugout.
Gregorius took a curtain call after hitting a long grand slam later in the inning that ended a 1-for-23 skid. Edwin Encarnación hit his 28th homer and third in two games, DJ LeMahieu also went deep, and New York stretched its AL East lead over Tampa Bay to six games.
Yandy Díaz hit a solo homer and an RBI double, and All-Star Austin Meadows delivered his 14th homer for Tampa Bay.
Benches cleared during the sixth inning amid a shouting match between Sabathia and hitter Avisaíl García. After Sabathia struck out García looking to strand two runners, the 38-year-old barked and pointed at García. Sabathia was restrained by Gregorius and never got close to García while both benches and bullpens emptied. No punches were thrown.
Sabathia was ejected for plunking the Rays’ Jesus Sucre during his last regular season start in 2018 and has had a few salty run-ins with Tampa Bay this season, including when he threw at Meadows three times and shouted insults during a game in May.
Sabathia allowed three runs in six innings and struck out six. He has a 2.63 ERA in eight starts against the Rays over the past two seasons.
Left fielder Brett Gardner robbed García of a likely homer with a leaping grab against the wall in the fourth inning. García threw down his helmet in frustration.
David Hale (3-0) pitched two scoreless innings for New York, starting with an inning-ending double play with the bases loaded in the seventh against Travis d’Arnaud.
D’Arnaud led off for Tampa Bay and played first base a night after hitting three homers, including a go-ahead shot in the ninth inning. D’Arnaud was 0 for 4 Tuesday.
Jalen Beeks followed opener Ryne Stanek and pitched 3 1/3 innings of one-run ball. He struck out four straight and five overall after being called up from Triple-A Durham.
The Yankees ran into an ugly double play to end the fifth. Gleyber Torres grounded to short, and Gregorius got caught in a rundown trying to go from second to third. Second baseman Michael Brosseau tagged out Gregorius after two throws, then spun and threw to pick off Torres, who had taken an aggressive turn around first.
The Yankees got their first ever visit from Rookie, the bat-fetching golden retriever who works for Double-A Trenton. Rookie was on the field before the game and posed for photos with former Thunder players, including Judge, but MLB rules prohibited him from working during the game.
Rays: OF Guillermo Heredia was optioned to Triple-A Durham to make space for Beeks. Manager Kevin Cash said optioning Heredia was the “toughest send-down we’ve had all season,” but the club needed a fresh arm. … All-Star 2B Brandon Lowe (bruised shin) is running and receiving treatment in Tampa Bay but hasn’t resumed baseball activities after being injured over the weekend. Cash is unsure if Lowe will be ready to play this weekend.
Yankees: 3B Gio Urshela was out of the starting lineup to rest. Urshela pinch ran for Luke Voit in the eighth. … OF Cameron Maybin (left calf) is hitting in a cage and doing agility drills. He’s nearing a minor league rehab assignment, but a date hasn’t been determined yet.
Rays RHP Yonny Chirinos (8-4, 3.11) will face Yankees RHP Domingo Germán (11-2, 3.40) in the third game of the four-game set. Chirinos had a career-high eight strikeouts in his previous outing against Baltimore and has made seven straight quality starts. Germán is 2-0 with an 0.75 ERA in two starts since returning from the injured list.
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