Aaron Judge hit a go-ahead, two-run homer in the eighth inning, and four batters later, Didi Gregorius hit a grand slam as the Yankees rallied to beat Tampa Bay, 8-3, on Tuesday night in a game that featured another surly clash between C. C. Sabathia and the Rays.
A pitch after slicing a would-be homer foul by about two feet, Judge smashed a 3-2 pitch from left-hander Colin Poche (2-3) into the right-center field seats for his 10th homer, which made it 4-3.
Later in the inning, Gregorius ended a 1-for-23 skid with a long grand slam. “Finally was able to come through,” he said. “Especially against a lefty, that makes it even better.”
The Yankees also got homers from Edwin Encarnación, his 28th and third in two games, and D. J. LeMahieu as they stretched their American League East lead to six games.
Yandy Díaz hit a solo homer and an R.B.I. double, and Austin Meadows delivered his 14th homer for Tampa Bay.
Benches cleared during the sixth inning amid a shouting match between Sabathia and Avisaíl García that began after Sabathia struck out García looking to strand two runners. The 38-year-old lefty barked and pointed at García and had to be restrained by Gregorius while both benches and bullpens emptied.
Sabathia said he wasn’t shouting at García initially, and García still wasn’t sure what had happened after the game.
“Honestly, I think just a misunderstanding,” Sabathia said. “I wasn’t talking to him. He looked up at me and said something, and it was on. I was just yelling out, kind of pumping myself up. He might have took offense to it. It is what it is. I’m never going to back down.”
Sabathia didn’t realize Gregorius — listed at 205 pounds compared to Sabathia’s 300 — was the one who corralled him back into the dugout.
“It felt like holding a bear,” Gregorius said.
Sabathia was ejected for plunking the Rays’ Jesus Sucre during his last regular season start in 2018 and has had a few run-ins with Tampa Bay this season, including when he threw at Meadows three times and shouted insults during a game in May.
Sabathia allowed three runs in six innings and struck out six.
Left fielder Brett Gardner robbed García of a likely homer with a leaping grab in the fourth inning. García threw down his helmet in frustration.
David Hale (3-0) pitched two scoreless innings for New York.