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Maybin HR sets record in Yankees' loss to Rays

New York uses 11 relievers, including Sabathia in his regular-season bullpen debut
@BryanHoch
September 25, 2019

ST. PETERSBURG -- The lineup card folded into Aaron Boone’s pocket on Tuesday evening grew to resemble the graffiti-covered walls of 1980s-era New York City, as the Yankees and Rays used 20 pitchers in the 12-inning contest, tossing 359 baseballs from the mound toward home plate. On an eventful evening

ST. PETERSBURG -- The lineup card folded into Aaron Boone’s pocket on Tuesday evening grew to resemble the graffiti-covered walls of 1980s-era New York City, as the Yankees and Rays used 20 pitchers in the 12-inning contest, tossing 359 baseballs from the mound toward home plate.

On an eventful evening that included the first relief appearance of CC Sabathia’s career, the 11th Yankees hurler to trot from the bullpen was the last. Ji-Man Choi connected for a walk-off homer facing Cory Gearrin in the 12th inning, lifting the Rays to a 2-1 victory at Tropicana Field.

Box score

“We threw the ball really well, they threw the ball really well,” Boone said. “That’s September baseball. Especially with their depth, they can be really aggressive with creating matchup advantages early and often in the game. That made for tough sledding with offense today.”

Jordan Montgomery hurled two scoreless innings in an opening assignment, and Sabathia pitched a perfect fourth inning with two strikeouts, in the 39-year-old’s first time out of the bullpen since the deciding Game 5 of the 2011 American League Division Series against the Tigers.

“The cutter is at 88, 89 [mph], with really good movement,” catcher Austin Romine said. “They’re good pitches, and with a guy of that caliber, you know what you are getting with him. … The game is slow for him. I think he can do it. He showed he can do it.”

Kevin Kiermaier tied the score in the fifth inning with a solo homer off Stephen Tarpley, who is auditioning for a spot on the postseason roster.

Dress for success: Get AL East champs gear

In the third inning, Cameron Maybin hit a solo home run, his 10th, giving the Yankees a Major League-record 14 players with 10 or more home runs this season.

The blast broke a tie with the 2019 Blue Jays, who had 13 players hit 10 or more homers. Maybin’s homer was also the 299th hit by the Yankees this season.

“All these games are big,” Maybin said. “Just because we are in, we are not taking anybody too lightly. Those guys are playing for something, we are playing for something. These games are going to continue to be interesting and important.”

CC gets an A

Prior to Tuesday, Sabathia’s first 560 regular-season games had come as a starter; he and Tom Glavine are the only hurlers in history to make that many appearances without a relief outing. Glavine made 682 starts and no relief appearances in his 22-year Hall of Fame career.

The second strikeout of Sabathia’s inning, a punchout of Matt Duffy, was his 1,700th as a member of the Yankees. He walked off the field to a loud ovation from the fans behind the third-base dugout.

“It’s good that he was able to just do it,” Boone said. “Walking from the bullpen was unique for him. Once he was out there, it was normal, so it was a good first step. Hopefully now he bounces back from it good [on Wednesday], and then we’ll try it again when we get to Arlington.”

With Sabathia coming out of the ‘pen, the active leader for the most regular-season starts without a relief appearance is Justin Verlander (452).

“I thought it was impressive,” said reliever Chad Green. “For that being the first time he's done it, that was impressive, for sure. It was fun to watch.”

Easy being Green

Green likely would have gotten the call to serve as the opener on Wednesday, but his services were instead needed to pitch the 10th and 11th innings, and he struck out five of the six men he faced.

“I'm aware of what's going on, that they want to use an opener, but I'm trying to stay locked into this game in case something like this happens,” Green said. “It can go 12 innings. You do the math and realize you can get in there at some point.”

It is good practice for the postseason, as Green could fill a variety of roles. The Yankees have been experimenting with him this month; of his seven September appearances, Tuesday's was his third of six or more outs.

“I think it all could happen,” Green said. “I think they've done a good job of putting me in different roles, and I think I'll be prepared for anything. Nothing will come as a surprise. I think a lot of guys would say that. Guys are ready for whatever role they go into. Whenever they call, I'll be ready.”

Close call

The Yankees absorbed a scare in the sixth inning when Gio Urshela was hit on the left hand by a 94.6-mph Diego Castillo fastball. Urshela remained in the game to run the bases and play a half-inning of defense, then was removed.

X-rays were negative, and Urshela was announced to have a bruised left hand.

“I know our team has had a lot of injuries, but I think mine is not bad,” Urshela said.

Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and Facebook.