Yandy Diaz, Rays try to level series against Yankees


In the absence of one of their biggest stars — Wander Franco, who is on administrative leave — the Tampa Bay Rays are still performing well due in large part to Yandy Diaz.

The Rays will play the middle game of a three-game series against the New York Yankees on Saturday afternoon in St. Petersburg, Fla., and Diaz likely will lead the charge again.

Diaz, the club’s leadoff hitter, leads the American League in batting average (.326) and three-hit games (16). He is second in on-base percentage (.403) and on-base-plus-slugging percentage (.910), behind only Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani in both categories.

In 111 games this year, Diaz has 44 multi-hit performances.

In the Rays’ 6-2 loss to the Yankees on Friday, Tampa Bay managed just four hits, but Diaz provided the highlight with a 109.4 mph laser for his third August homer.

Diaz collected five hits, several in key moments, in the Rays’ three-game series sweep of the Colorado earlier this week.

“We’ve been fortunate in that when it seems like we need a big hit, Yandy is either up or he’s coming up soon,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “It does seem like he comes through more often than not.”

Diaz’s Friday blast was almost all the Rays could muster against Gerrit Cole, who outdueled Zach Eflin in a matchup of top-tier AL pitchers.

Cole fanned 11 — his fifth time in double figures this year — and did not walk a batter in 7 2/3 innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) and lowered his AL-best ERA to 2.95.

“That’s what he does — he’s got great stuff, elite command when he’s on like tonight,” Cash said. “We saw two of the best pitchers in the American League going today, and they kind of went toe to toe.”

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said he thinks Cole is in the Cy Young Award conversation.

“Oh yeah, he’s having that kind of season,” said Boone, whose club is 45-19 when scoring first. “Still a ways to go, but he’s in the middle of a really special season.”

New York’s DJ LeMahieu went deep twice in his first multi-homer game since May 7, 2021.

On Saturday, Clarke Schmidt (8-7, 4.68 ERA) will take the mound for the Yankees. The right-hander is 1-1 with a 6.38 ERA in four starts this month, having allowed 13 runs in 18 1/3 innings. He had won six consecutive decisions before logging a loss and a no-decision in his past two outings, respectively.

In seven career appearances, three starts, against Tampa Bay, Schmidt is 1-2 with a 5.40 ERA. The Rays beat him on May 14 in New York, when he yielded seven runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings.

Tampa Bay’s Saturday starter, Tyler Glasnow (6-4, 3.35), will look to rebound from a rough outing last Saturday in the first game of a doubleheader against the host Angels.

The 6-foot-8 right-hander surrendered seven runs (five earned) and eight hits in six innings during a 7-6 defeat.

In eight career starts against the Yankees, Glasnow is 3-2 with a 3.12 ERA. He posted a victory at New York on July 31 after giving up a run on three hits in seven innings as the Rays prevailed 5-1.

–Field Level Media

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