Grand time for Myers
Wil Myers accomplished a feat that Yankee Stadium hadn’t seen in more than 33 years.
It wasn’t enough for the Tampa Bay Rays to win after their bullpen blew a late lead.
Myers, a Thomasville native who starred at Wesleyan Christian Academy, hit a grand slam for his first career home run, but the New York Yankees scored four times in the seventh inning for a 7-5 victory Saturday.
The Rays trailed 3-1 in the sixth when CC Sabathia (8-5) intentionally walked Evan Longoria with two outs to get to Myers, one of baseball’s top prospects.
The rookie came in hitting .190 in five games since he was called up from the minors at the beginning of the week. He’d had exactly one hit in four straight games before going 3 for 4 on Saturday in his first start as a designated hitter.
Myers became the second player in club history to hit a grand slam for his first homer. Jorge Velandia did it in 2007, also against the Yankees.
Longoria was 2 for 2 with a double and a solo homer that had accounted for the Rays’ lone run when the Yankees intentionally walked him. On a 1-2 count, Myers hit a high fly to center. Brett Gardner jumped at the fence and the ball bounced off the webbing of his glove and into the stands, though it appeared to already be over the wall when he touched it.
“It was just awesome to be down two strikes and the crowd cheering and to be able to put a swing like that on it,” Myers said. “Just a cool experience.”
The last time Yankee Stadium was the site of a player hitting a grand slam for his first homer was 1980, when Detroit’s Ricky Peters did it.
With the Rays leading 5-3, Joel Peralta (1-4) took over in the seventh and immediately got in trouble. He loaded the bases with one out on two walks and Lyle Overbay’s double, and was pulled for lefty Jake McGee.
“I couldn’t find the strike zone,” Peralta said. “None of those pitches were working for me today.”
McGee struck out Jayson Nix for the second out but walked David Adams to force in a run, the second time the Yankees scored on a bases-loaded walk. Adams had never drawn a walk in 86 career plate appearances before Saturday; he had two in the game.
Vernon Wells, mired in a 9-for-87 slump and supplanted in left field by rookie Zoilo Almonte the past two days, then pinch-hit for No. 9 batter Chris Stewart.
Wells’ drive to right-center bounced above the top of the wall, where it hit a fan’s glove and was ruled fan interference.
The umpires allowed all three runners to cross home plate, determining Adams would have scored from first base if not for the fan interference. They sent Wells back to second, but the Yankees suddenly had a 7-5 lead.
Mariano Rivera worked a scoreless ninth for his 26th save.