'This was a big one': Rays rally from 6 down to stun Cole, Yanks

Paredes hits walk-off single in 10th before biggest regular-season Trop crowd in 7 years

May 7th, 2023

ST. PETERSBURG -- Amazing. 


However you want to describe it, the Rays’ 8-7 victory Sunday afternoon against the Yankees -- clinched on ’ one-out, 10th-inning RBI single -- will be long remembered by the 32,142 fans at Tropicana Field that comprised the club’s largest regular-season home crowd in seven years.

“Look, I don't know how you quantify or magnify games in May, but this was a big one,’’ said Rays manager Kevin Cash, whose team has a best-in-baseball 28-7 record, becoming only the sixth AL/NL club since 1901 with such a 35-game start. “And I know that our clubhouse is pretty excited, and they should be.’’

In a game with dizzying twists and turns, the drama was jump-started against Yankees starter Gerrit Cole, who came into the game leading the majors in ERA, innings and strikeouts while not allowing more than two runs in any outing. Cole had a 6-0 lead and a two-hit shutout entering the fifth inning. He was cruising.

Then, all of a sudden, he wasn’t.

got the Rays on the board with a first-pitch shot to center field in the fifth, the first home run allowed by Cole this season. Tampa Bay scored five times in the sixth, highlighted by ’s game-tying three-run blast off Cole, who was immediately lifted. Bethancourt sat on a breaking ball on the first pitch, and he guessed right.

The normally stoic Bethancourt was jubilant as he rounded the bases.

“I was just happy to see the dugout and all the fans [celebrating],’’ Bethancourt said. “It was a special moment.’’

But the Rays weren’t done in the sixth.

Siri drew a walk against reliever Jimmy Cordero, then moved to second on a wild pitch. Siri was off with the pitch when Yandy Díaz’s high bouncer was gloved by Cordero near the first-base line. Cordero lobbed the ball to first baseman DJ LeMahieu for the out, but Siri kept running and scored without drawing a throw.

“I try to pay attention to the little mistakes made by the other team,’’ Siri said through team interpreter Manny Navarro. “Not all pitchers I’ll say are great athletes. Me being a guy with speed, I paid attention and I used my legs.’’

The Yankees tied it 7-7 in the seventh, so it became a bullpen battle.

In the top of the 10th inning, left-hander , the Rays’ sixth pitcher, coaxed Anthony Volpe into a fly ball to right field, deep enough to move automatic runner Aaron Hicks to third with one out. With the infield playing in, Gleyber Torres grounded to shortstop Wander Franco, who threw home.

Cleavinger was the third player in what became a rundown as Hicks bolted for home. Hicks tried to duck under the tag, and Cleavinger missed and tumbled to the ground with a right knee injury. Bethancourt picked up the ball and shuffled to Paredes, who tagged Hicks, while Torres hustled all the way to third.

Cleavinger, though, was still down. And after trying a warmup pitch, he was pulled. Left-hander -- who entered with a 6.89 ERA -- was summoned, and he struck out Anthony Rizzo, ending the threat.

“It was tough seeing [Cleavinger] go down, love that guy, so I wanted to pick him up,’’ Beeks said. “The year hasn’t gone for me like I wanted it to. I feel like I should pitch better. I’m trying to get back on the right track. So this was just an exciting moment.’’

In the bottom of the 10th against right-hander Albert Abreu, the Yankees’ sixth pitcher, Paredes drilled a one-out, opposite-field single to right, scoring automatic runner Brandon Lowe from second, and the Rays were winners -- again.

“He [Paredes] is a dead-pull hitter, but we need to go the other way or show the ability to do so,’’ Cash said. “That was a big hit. Then we’re jumping around and high-fiving.’’

It allowed the Rays to capture their ninth series of 11 this season with their third walk-off win. It was a regular-season game in early May, but it felt like so much more, particularly with Tampa Bay headed to Baltimore for a three-game series against the American League East rival Orioles to begin a three-city, 11-day tour that will also bring it to New York for series against the Yankees and Mets.

Bethancourt, while happy with the victory, didn’t give it a deeper meaning.

“It means that we win the game, and [it means] every time we can come back if we play 27 outs,’’ Bethancourt said. “It doesn’t matter if we’re down by three or four or 10. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing. If we play all 27 outs, we give ourselves a chance.’’