NEW YORK â€” First Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash followed the template New York Yankees manager Joe Girardi used Monday night. Then Rays shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria hit the homer he barely missed hitting a little less than 24 hours earlier.
Four Rays relievers combined to blank the Yankees in the final four innings and Hechavarriaâ€™s homer in the eighth inning snapped a tie and lifted Tampa Bay to a 2-1 victory at Citi Field.
â€śGood win,â€ť Cash said. â€śMan, that was pretty exciting, the way it played out.â€ť
The second game of a 3-game series re-located from Tropicana Field due to Hurricane Irmaâ€™s impact on Floridaâ€™ Gulf Coast was a taut, October-worthy pitchersâ€™ duel after the Yankees and Rays swapped runs in the first inning, when New Yorkâ€™s Matt Holliday laced an RBI double and Tampa Bayâ€™s Kevin Kiermaier hit a lead-off homer.
Rays lefthander Blake Snell allowed just two hits in 5-plus innings before giving way to a cadre of relievers that matched Yankees starter Sonny Gray pitch for pitch until Hechavarriaâ€™s homer.
Steve Cishek, who has 121 career saves, relieved Snell after Brett Gardnerâ€™s leadoff single in the sixth and allowed one hit in 1 2/3 innings while facing the Yankeesâ€™ second through seventh-place hitters. Those six batters have combined for 149 homers this season.
â€śGiven how their lineup was shaped with (Aaron) Judge, (Gary) Sanchez, (Matt) Holliday, [Starlin] Castro, I felt like that was the perfect time to kind of bring in our right-handed weapon against their guys,â€ť Cash said. â€śThat was a big time of the game.â€ť
It was just the 10th time this season, and the 17th time since 2015, that Cishek has entered a game before the seventh inning.
On Monday night, Yankees reliever David Robertson, who has 132 career saves, entered in the fifth inning for the first time since 2011 and picked up the win by throwing a career-high 2.2 innings in a 5-1 victory.
â€śWatch the pace of the game and kind of let the pace dictate how I get ready at this point,â€ť Cishek said. â€śYouâ€™ve got to be ready from, I guess, the third inning on.â€ť
Dan Jennings got the final out of the seventh before winning pitcher Tommy Hunter (3-5) threw a perfect eighth.
The Rays finally solved Gray â€” who retired 12-of-13 between the first and fifth and nine in a row from the fifth through eighth â€” when Hechavarria laced a 1-out homer deep into the left-field seats.
Hechavarria missed the cycle by a homer on Monday, when he flied out to the track in right in his final at-bat.
â€śNormally, Iâ€™m out of my element swinging that hard, I normally donâ€™t swing that hard,â€ť Hechavarria said through an interpreter. â€śBut that at-bat I wanted to get something I could really handle.â€ť
Alex Colome earned his Major League-leading 44th save with a perfect ninth inning in which he induced three grounders to Hechavarria at shortstop.
Snell allowed two hits and two walks while striking out five for the Rays (72-74), who remained four games behind the Minnesota Twins in the race for the American Leagueâ€™s second wild card.
The Yankees (78-66) are three games ahead of the Twins for the first wild card.
Gray (9-10) took the hard-luck complete game loss despite allowing only five hits and one walk while striking out nine in eight innings.
â€śMost of the time, you give up two runs in eight innings, youâ€™re going to win the game,â€ť Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. â€śBut tonight, it wasnâ€™t meant to be.â€ť
Gray is 3-5 despite a 2.66 ERA in eight starts since the Yankees acquired him from the Oakland Athletics on July 31. New York has scored one run or fewer in all five of his losses.
â€śHe has pitched really well for us, and itâ€™s unfortunate,â€ť Girardi said. â€śBut over the long haul, if you pitch like that, itâ€™s going to work out really well for everyone involved.â€ť
Notes: Rays OF Steven Souza Jr. returned to the lineup after missing three games with a bruised left knee. â€¦ Yankees 1B Greg Bird (back) missed a second straight game. The left-handed-hitting Bird, who likely would have sat regardless against Rays LHP Blake Snell, said he felt better Tuesday but underwent an MRI as a precaution. â€¦ The 2018 Major League Baseball schedule was released Tuesday. On Opening Day, March 29, the Yankees will visit the Toronto Blue Jays and the Rays will host the Boston Red Sox. The Yankees will host the Rays in their home opener on April 2.