When Bauers got his chance, it was time for him to be the hero.
Bauers smashed a walk-off homer in the 12th inning on Chasen Shreve's first offering, leading the Rays to a 7-6 victory over the Yankees on Sunday at Tropicana Field and completing a three-game sweep. It was also the Yankees' first three-game losing streak this season.
"It's unreal," Bauers said. "I still can't catch my breath. This is something a lot of people dream of, but not many people get to do."
Truthfully, Bauers said, the game was filled with Tampa Bay heroes. Rays manager Kevin Cash agreed.
"So many people did so many things to make this win possible," Cash said. "I'm not sure I can [absorb] all that happened. I just know that so many people contributed to it. It was a very, very special weekend for our ballclub."
Bauers' homer was the Rays' first hit since the third inning, as both teams engaged in a bullpen scrum. Shreve was the Yankees' seventh pitcher, and the Rays also used seven arms.
Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough (7-3), summoned unexpectedly in the 12th inning when reliever Jonny Venters sustained a pulled hamstring while trying to cover on Brett Gardner's leadoff bunt, got the victory. Yarbrough was called upon after throwing 75 pitches Friday night against the Yankees.
"I don't know what would've happened if it kept going [for several more innings]," Yarbrough said. "They asked me if I could possibly throw today, pure emergency, and I said I could. You never know how the game is going to transpire. Bauers really came up clutch. But before that happened, I think every guy who threw today did great."
Cash said he was particularly impressed with left-hander Vidal Nuno, who hadn't pitched since June 14 but worked four innings and got the Rays into the ninth with the score tied.
"The way [Nuno] kept himself ready, then navigated through that lineup, with a lot of difficult matchups, was really something we needed," Cash said.
The Rays mounted a formidable offensive game in the first three innings, when they took a 6-3 lead and pounded six extra-base hits off Yankees starter Domingo German.
Kevin Kiermaier led off the first with a hustling triple on a liner through the hole that reached the left-center-field wall, then scored on Matt Duffy's double down the right-field line. One batter later, Carlos Gomez's double drove home Duffy.
The Yankees roared back for a 3-2 lead on Miguel Andujar's three-run homer in the second. The Rays tied it in the bottom of the frame on Adeiny Hechavarria's solo shot.
The Rays kept things going in the third with three more runs. Gomez singled to drive in Bauers, who led off the inning with a triple. Mallex Smith then beat out a chopper to the mound, giving the Rays a pair of baserunners, and Jesus Sucre drove them both home with a double, making it 6-3.
Rays starter Matt Andriese was lifted after allowing two baserunners to begin the fourth, but Jose Alvarado wiggled out of the jam. But when Alvarado issued a one-out walk to Gardner in the fifth, the Rays turned to Diego Castillo, who was touched for back-to-back RBI doubles by Didi Gregorius and Giancarlo Stanton, pulling the Yankees to within one.
The offensive pace soon slowed to a crawl with effective bullpen work from both sides. But Stanton -- who notched his second career five-hit game -- led off the eighth with a solo homer off Nuno, tying the game at 6 and setting up the extra-inning finish.
"The way our guys came back off the road trip to get this sweep was really something we needed," Cash said. "It was nice to outlast them today and get something against them that has happened too many times against us in my four years -- a walk-off win. It's very satisfying."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Nuno finished his four-inning stint by escaping a ninth-inning jam. Gardner slammed a two-out double off the right-field wall -- narrowly missing a homer -- and Aaron Judge was walked intentionally. Nuno then coaxed Gregorius into an inning-ending grounder to Hechavarria at shortstop, preserving the tie.
SOUND SMART The win marked the second time in Rays history that the team swept a series of three games or more against a team that entered the series with the best record in the Majors. It also happened June 17-19, 2008, against the Cubs -- in a season when the Rays ultimately reached the World Series.
YOU GOTTA SEE THIS Yankees pinch-hitter Clint Frazier led off the eighth with a towering shot to left field. Off the bat, it looked like a home run. But it struck a speaker dangling from the "B'' ring catwalk and caromed back toward short left field, where it was deftly caught by Hechavarria. According to Tropicana Field ground rules, any fair ball that strikes the "B'' ring is in play.
HE SAID IT "I was just trying to get on base. Get a runner on first and anything can happen. I wasn't trying to do too much. That's usually when good things happen.'' -- Bauers, on his walk-off, 12th-inning homer
MITEL REPLAY OF THE DAY In the 11th inning, Rays shortstop Willy Adames drew a one-out walk, then was called out trying to steal second base as Yankees catcher Austin Romine threw to Gregorius. The Rays opted for a replay, and the call was overturned after one minute and nine seconds. Adames was ruled to have beaten the throw.
UP NEXT It will be a battle of left-handers when the Rays open a two-game series against the Nationals at Tropicana Field on Monday at 7:10 p.m. ET. Tampa Bay will start Blake Snell (9-4, 2.48 ERA), who got the win on Wednesday at Houston despite issuing a career-high seven walks. Washington starts Gio Gonzalez (6-4, 3.08 ERA), who has lost two straight decisions and is seeking his first victory since May 28. Gonzalez is 2-2 with a 5.54 ERA in his career against the Rays.
Joey Johnston is a contributor to MLB.com based in St. Petersburg.