The Yankees took advantage of sloppy pitching on Tuesday night, drawing two bases-loaded walks and scoring on a wild pitch in a four-run fourth inning en route to a 6-1 win over the Tampa Bay Rays to secure home-field advantage in the AL Wild Card Game. >> Box score
Aaron Hicks returned from the disabled list and made an immediate impact, robbing a grand slam from Wilson Ramos in the first inning to set the tone early on for New York.
Starlin Castro homered to lead off the second inning and it unraveled from there for Rays starter Blake Snell, who allowed four runs in just one-plus inning of work. Castro finished the night with a team-high three hits, while Gary Sanchez and Matt Holliday added RBI singles in the eighth inning to provide insurance runs.
Jordan Montgomery struck out five batters and limited the Rays to just one run. He needed just 79 pitches to get through six innings of work.
The night didn't start out too well for Montgomery, allowing the first three batters to reach base. However, he escaped the inning allowing just one run, the only run the Rays would get off him and the Yankees.
Montgomery may have thrown his final regular season pitch, and if so, ends his rookie campaign with a very respectable 3.96 ERA and 1.25 WHIP with 141 strikeouts in 150 innings. Montgomery was not considered a part of the rotation solution until the final weeks of spring training when it became apparent he was well ahead of the competition.
There were points during the season that Montgomery was among the best starters in the rotation and others in which, well, he looked like a rookie. Barring major moves this offseason, Montgomery will surely be a favorite to rejoin the rotation with Luis Severino and Sonny Gray the only current starters assured of returning next season (Masahiro Tanaka can opt out and CC Sabathia's contract comes to an end).
The Yankees will continue their series with the Rays on Wednesday at 7:05 p.m. at Yankee Stadium. Luis Severino (13-6, 3.03 ERA) will face Matt ndriese (5-4, 4.44 ERA)