Kyle Higashioka had a big night. The Yankees catcher helped guide Nestor Cortés and the Yankees bullpen through a dangerous Rays lineup. Higashioka also hit a three-run homer in the Yankees’ 4-3 win over Tampa Bay at the stadium on Wednesday night.
But Higashioka wasn’t exactly happy with how that game went down. The catcher was disappointed with a 16-minute delay as the umpires tried to confirm the rule to tour the mound with a pinch hitter during the eighth inning.
“That was brutal. I mean, at first, I don’t think that could happen,” Higashioka said of the long delay as the stadium at large was in the dark about what was being questioned. We can’t just take 20 or 30 minutes or whatever to find out. There must be someone who knows what to do.”
“I mean, I definitely didn’t feel well on the field after that long delay,” Higashioka said. “So I’m glad we got through this.”
The Yankees (46-16) have won six straight games, 13 straight in the Bronx and secured their 16th series win and went for their eighth series sweep on Thursday night. He has the best record in baseball and held his lead in the American League East for 11 games over the Rays (35–27).
The Bombers got homers from Higashioka, their third in the last two games, after recording their first 100 plate appearance this season without a single. Aaron Judge hit his major league-leading 25th place finish of the season. Cortés allowed one run on three hits and scored three runs in 5.1 innings. Clay Holmes extended his scoreless innings streak to 30 with his 11th save of the season.
And the Yankees survived the eighth inning, when play was halted as the umpires provided Chelsea with video replay room to confirm the rules for visiting the mound with pinch hitters on the field.
It began after Miguel Castro hit Randy Arozerena two outs and Manuel Margot at second base. Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake went out to pacify Castro, but as he headed back into the dugout, Ray’s lefty slugger G-Man Choi Isaac came out to pinch for the parade. The Bombers quickly called the bullpen and picked up a lefty to Lucas Luetge and told Higashioka and Castro to slow down a bit.
“I only need five pitches to be ready,” Luetge said.
Boone came out of the dugout to go to the mound and the umpires stopped him thinking it was his second mound tour. The four umpires honored simultaneously on the field, eventually determining that Boone was allowed to visit the mound in order to remove Castro.
“The first mound tour was assigned to Paradis” [at bat]Crew chief Phil Coozie said, “The second mound tour was assigned to Pinch Hitter.
“That was the question.”
Ray scored two after the delay, but Luetge asked Brett Phillips to fly off to end the innings.
And Holmes took it from there.
“It’s so crazy. I mean, the movement on it is like no one else drowning in the game that I can see,” Higashioka said. “So it’s like a unicorn pitch. I don’t know if anyone else has anything like that. I’m having a pretty tough time. I can’t imagine what it’s like to try to hit it.”
Instead, Higashioka faced Shane McClanahan. The tough, young lefty of The Rays conceded one, giving away four runs on three hits and two walks. He gave home runs to the judge and Higashioka.
Although he has struggled to start the season, Boone was not surprised to see that the catcher came in with a huge hit.
“When he’s going well he’s a threat to power, especially against left-handed pitching,” Boone said. “Nice to see him have a couple on board here these past few days and it’s obviously a really good one in McClanahan, which I thought was really good tonight. We have a lot more against him.” was not.”