Greg Bird’s two RBIs helped the Yankees get a 3-1 win over the Rays

Luis Severino.

Luis Severino.

The Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday night, 3-1, in the final game of their series at Tropicana Field. It was a big win for the Yankees because they were able to stay three games behind Toronto in the AL East since the Blue Jays routed the last place Atlanta Braves 9-1. After last night’s win, the Yankees are now only seven wins away from 10,000 in franchise history.

Luis Severino only allowed one run in 5.2 innings pitched while striking out seven in what was his most important start as a Yankee. The Yankees still have a chance in the AL East partly because they have won four of the last five games that he has started. The team could not have asked for anything more from their highly regarded rookie as he has a 3.12 ERA and 45 strikeouts in his eight starts and has allowed two runs or less in six of those starts.

“It’s great to help the team win,” Severino said after the game.

He has only allowed more than two runs twice, and both of those starts came against the Blue Jays. He allowed three runs in six innings in his first start against Toronto, which means that nine of the 15 runs that he has allowed have come against Toronto. That is not surprising because the Blue Jays have scored 102 runs more than the the Yankees, who have scored the second most runs in baseball.

In his previous start, on September 11 against the Blue Jays, Severino gave up six runs on six hits and three walks in only 2.1 innings, which means that he was able to rebound very well after that sub-par performance. Severino had not allowed a run until the sixth inning when Steven Souza Jr. doubled to center with one out to score James Loney. He struck out Nick Franklin swinging with two outs and then Justin Wilson came on in relief as Severino had thrown 94 pitches.

“He bounced back extremely well, which is good to see,” Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. Some rookies will struggle after performing like Severino did against Toronto, but he was impressively able to pitch like he previously had.

Chase Headley had what ended up being the game-winning RBI in the top of the sixth inning with his single to shallow left that sent Brian McCann home to make the score 2-0. That was Headley’s only hit of the game and that hit snapped his 10 at-bat hitless streak.

Greg Bird, who was 2-4, drove in the first and third runs that the Yankees scored. He was once again a critical part in a Yankees win. In the second inning, to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead, Bird hit a double to right center to score Carlos Beltran. In the ninth inning, to give the team an insurance run, Bird hit his seventh homer in his 29 game played of the season. Seven homers and 21 RBIs are very productive power numbers for a rookie who has not even played in 30 games.

The bullpen pitched 3.1 combined innings and only allowed one hit. Wilson only need 12 pitches to strike out two in his inning, Dellin Betances threw 1.1 innings and had to get out of trouble as he walked the bases loaded in the seventh and Souza Jr. hit a single off of him in the eighth, but he was able to get a key double play and strike out. Andrew Miller (1.80 ERA) struck out all three batters he faced in the ninth to record his impressive 34th save of the season in his first year as a closer.

Chris Archer, who pitched well against the Yankees once again, allowed the first two runs that the Yankees scored. He pitched six innings and allowed four hits and four walks. He broke the Rays’ single season strikeout record with his third inning strikeout of Brett Gardner. That was his 240th strikeouts, which broke Scott Kazmir’s record.

The other positive offensively was that Jacoby Ellsbury, who had not had a hit in his previous 22 at-bats, went 2-5 in what was his first multi-hit game since September 6. The Yankees need this to be a sign of him hitting with more consistency.

The Yankees have their last off day of the season today before playing 17 games in 17 days to end the season. The Yankees play three games against the Mets at Citi Field starting on Friday and after that series will play an important three-game series at the Rogers Centre against the Blue Jays. Those six games will go a long way towards deciding if the Yankees win the division or get one of two wild card spots.

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