Bronx, NY – Matt Joyce's three-run homer off David Robertson in the ninth inning gave the Rays a dramatic 4-1 victory over the Yankees.
For the second straight night, the Rays loaded the bases in their final at- bat. Robertson, New York's setup-man turned closer in the wake of Mariano Rivera's season-ending injury, escaped with a save on Tuesday, but was unable to hold a 1-0 lead in the middle test of this three-game set.
B.J. Upton tied the game with a sacrifice fly, and Joyce got just enough of a 1-2 fastball to send it into the first row of seats in right-center despite turning his ankle while finishing his swing.
"It was the best and worst feeling that you could possibly have in the span of a minute," said Joyce. "I was pumped that I hit it and I knew I hit it pretty well but I was on the ground when the ball was in the air."
The Rays had been 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position prior to Joyce's blast against Robertson (0-1), who had not allowed a run in 27 innings dating back to last year.
"I thought I could get away with a fastball there," said Robertson. "I thought I located it pretty well. He put a good swing on it and put a charge into it."
Fernando Rodney (2-0) tossed two scoreless innings of relief to earn the win behind Jeff Niemann, who allowed one run on six hits over seven solid innings.
David Phelps, whose spot in New York's rotation appears to be short-lived with Andy Pettitte slated to start Sunday, allowed three hits and four walks in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
The combination of Boone Logan, Cory Wade and Rafael Soriano out of the bullpen kept Tampa Bay off the scoreboard, but Robertson gave up consecutive singles to start the ninth before walking Ben Zobrist on four pitches.
Robertson struck out Carlos Pena before Upton lofted a fly ball to deep right field to plate Sean Rodriguez just in front of Nick Swisher's throw.
Joyce went down 0-2 in the count, but took one in the dirt, fouled another off and limped around the bases after notching his seventh home run of the season.
In the first inning, Robinson Cano doubled over the head of Joyce in left field, and Derek Jeter raced around to score all the way from first.
It proved to be the only run for the Yankees, who went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position and left eight on base.
Tampa Bay had lost three straight coming in...Earlier Wednesday, the Yankees announced Rivera was hospitalized for a blood clot in his right calf. Doctors discovered the blood clot while he was being examined for his torn ACL in his right knee. He is now on blood thinners and this will not affect his recovery from the season-ending injury...Thursday's rubber match of series pits a pair of ace left-handers in New York's CC Sabathia and the Rays' David Price.