Discussing his first career three-homer game, a performance that included a go-ahead, ninth-inning, three-run shot that gave the Tampa Bay Rays a crucial win over the New York Yankees on Monday, Travis d'Arnaud did not hesitate as to where it ranked in his career.
A little over a week after hitting a game-ending homer to beat the Yankees, d'Arnaud drove in all five runs Monday in Tampa Bay's 5-4 win at Yankee Stadium.
"Number one," d'Arnaud said. "It's the coolest moment ever."
D'Arnaud and the Rays hope to enjoy more cool moments and gain another game on the Yankees on Tuesday night when the top two teams in the American League East continue a four-game series.
The catcher, who is still being paid by the New York Mets after they released him in April, hit two solo homers off James Paxton and then belted a two-strike, three-run homer off Aroldis Chapman in the ninth to move Tampa Bay within five games of the division lead.
The Rays are 6-1 in their past seven games, and they have won their past three meetings with the Yankees, all by one run.
D'Arnaud is hitting .444 (16-for-36) with five homers and 10 RBIs in his past 10 games.
Four of those homers are against the Yankees. According to STATS, he is the first catcher to produce a three-homer game against the Yankees.
"A huge win, not bad for a day I almost missed the bus," d'Arnaud said. "To be up 1-0 in this series and to win three in a row against a great team in the Yankees is big for us."
Being unable to get d'Arnaud out sent the Yankees to their first loss when leading after eight innings this year. It also led to their fourth loss in six games, with all four defeats being by one run.
The Yankees hit three homers, including two by Edwin Encarnacion, but went a season-high sixth straight game being held to fewer than five runs. Gary Sanchez, who went 0-for-4, has four hits in his past 43 at-bats, dropping his average to .240. Didi Gregorius, who got Monday night off, has one hit in his past 24 at-bats.
"It's a really good team," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of the Rays, whom New York beat six straight times before dropping the past three meetings. "They've picked themselves off the mat, too, and we've kind of had our way with them, and they've come back with some big hits in some big spots."
New York will try to even the series when CC Sabathia (5-4, 4.03 ERA) seeks his 252nd career win Tuesday. He is tied with Bob Gibson for 47th on the all-time victories list, one behind Al Spalding and two behind Carl Hubbell.
Sabathia last pitched July 6 in Tampa Bay, when he allowed three runs in seven innings and took a no-decision.
The veteran left-hander is 18-16 with a 3.59 ERA in 52 career starts against Tampa Bay.
The Rays will use the opener Tuesday. They are expected to begin with Ryne Stanek (0-2, 3.14 ERA) before using Jalen Beeks (5-0, 2.79) for the bulk of the innings.
Stanek last pitched Sunday, when he tossed the first two innings in Baltimore as the Rays retired the first 24 hitters. He is 0-1 with a 1.98 ERA in his 26 outings as the opener this year. Stanek is 0-1 with a 6.16 ERA in 18 career appearances (seven starts) against New York.
--Field Level Media