Aaron Judge hit a tiebreaking single in the 10th inning and first baseman DJ LeMahieu made a diving catch to end the game as the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 Wednesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Judge was originally in the starting lineup but scratched about 45 minutes before first pitch due to additional medical testing related to his prior stint on the COVID-19 injured list.
He entered as a pinch hitter in the fifth inning and went hitless in his first two at-bats before delivering the go-ahead run in the 10th.
The Yankees had runners on first and second after Pete Fairbanks (3-4) hit Greg Allen with a pitch on the left knee. On a 1-1 slider, Judge appeared to hit a double-play grounder, but the ball caromed off rookie shortstop Wander Franco’s glove into center field as designated runner Gio Urshela scored.
After Judge’s hit, Fairbanks exited due to an apparent injury.
Andrew Kittredge replaced Fairbanks, and his first pitch bounced to the backstop, allowing Allen to score easily for a 3-1 lead.
Judge’s hit gave the Yankees their seventh win in 10 games and also helped New York inch within 2 1/2 games of the Oakland Athletics for the second American League wild-card spot.
Judge’s clutch hit capped a night when the Yankees reportedly were closing in on a significant trade to acquire left-handed-hitting slugger Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers.
LeMahieu hit a fifth-inning sacrifice fly for the Yankees, who lined into inning-ending double plays in the ninth and 10th innings.
Brandon Lowe hit a fourth-inning RBI double for the Rays, who fell 2 1/2 games behind the first-place Boston Red Sox in the AL East.
Chad Green (4-5) pitched a perfect ninth after Zack Britton pitched a hitless eighth. Aroldis Chapman survived a bumpy 10th for his 20th save in 24 chances.
Chapman issued a one-out walk to Randy Arozarena and then threw a wild pitch that advanced the runners to second and third. He struck out pinch hitter Nelson Cruz, then sealed the win when Francisco Mejia popped out on the first pitch.
LeMahieu ended the game when he moved to his left, went to the ground and made a backhand catch just before the ball reached the dirt.
New York’s Nestor Cortes Jr. allowed one run on three hits in five innings. He struck out five, walked one and threw 79 pitches.
Tampa Bay’s Michael Wacha allowed an unearned run on three hits in five innings. He tied a season high with nine strikeouts, walked one and also threw 79 pitches.