NEW YORK -- With two on, nobody out and the heart of the Yankees' order coming up, the Rays turned to their bullpen in the fifth inning of a one-run game. There was little room for error if they were to avoid being swept.Five innings later, the Rays edged out
NEW YORK -- With two on, nobody out and the heart of the Yankees' order coming up, the Rays turned to their bullpen in the fifth inning of a one-run game. There was little room for error if they were to avoid being swept.
Five innings later, the Rays edged out a 5-3 win over the Yankees thanks to their relievers, who allowed no runs and just one hit.
"All the credit probably has to go to the bullpen," said manager Kevin Cash. "They came in a lot of high-leverage, high-pressure situations and calmed the situation down."
It's unlikely the middle innings would've gone as smoothly for the Rays if not for three of the trades they made this week, as Cash relied on newly acquired relievers Sergio Romo, Dan Jennings and Steve Cishek to bridge the three-inning gap between starter Jacob Faria and setup man Tommy Hunter.
Romo was given the tall task of facing American League home run leader Aaron Judge in the fifth inning, which he quickly made an even tougher situation when he uncorked a wild pitch to advance the runners to second and third.
"Go figure," Romo said about coming in to face Judge. "With one swing of the bat from Judge, three runs could've come across real quick."
But Romo buckled down, dealing Judge a heavy dose of sliders to strike him out, before retiring Matthew Holliday for the second out. Lefty Jennings relieved Romo and got hot-hitting Didi Gregorius to ground out and end the threat.
Cishek replaced Jennings with one out in the sixth and runners on first and third, and he, too, proceeded to make matters worse when he plunked catcher Austin Romine in the left hand to load the bases and turn the Yankees lineup over.
And just like Romo, Cishek worked out of trouble unscathed, though Clint Frazier's inning-ending flyout to left was hit probably a little too deep for comfort.
"I thought Cishek, that was a pretty star performance," Cash said. "After he hit [Romine], that's where things can unravel, and he just continued to make quality pitch after quality pitch."
From there, Hunter tossed a 1-2-3 eighth before closer Alex Colome worked into and out of trouble to earn his 30th save in the ninth.
"Those guys are going to help us for the next two months," said Cash of Romo, Jennings and Cishek. "They're veteran guys who've pitched very well in big situations in the past. That's the track record that they bring with them. We anticipate being in some big situations moving forward."
Matthew Martell is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York who covered the Rays on Sunday.