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Yankees eye more offense vs. Rays

Wed Jul 17 3:16am ET

For a little over a week, an offense that slugged its way to the top of the American League East encountered some struggles at the plate.

Among those slumping for the New York Yankees was shortstop Didi Gregorius, who has just two hits in his past 27 at-bats.

However, Gregorius hit a grand slam on Tuesday to break open New York's 8-3 win over the visiting Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees hope that blast can get Gregorius rolling. They will get a chance to find out Wednesday night at Yankee Stadium when they attempt to widen their lead in the division in the third game of the four-game series with the Rays.

"I think he's been working hard behind the scenes to try and get locked in and get it going like he knows he's capable of," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said of Gregorius, who is hitting .255 with five homers and 13 RBIs in 26 games since returning from Tommy John surgery on June 7. "I think he's followed the last couple of days, some little games where he has had some good swings, fouled some pitches off and then finally was really able to lean on one."

Aaron Judge hit a go-ahead two-run homer and Gregorius connected in a six-run eighth inning off Colin Poche. Those homers helped move the first-place Yankees six games ahead of the second-place Rays and gave New York a 10-5 lead in the season series.

The Yankees are 19-6 in their past 25 games, but before erupting Tuesday, they had scored only 17 runs in the previous six games, a stretch that included three one-run losses to Tampa Bay.

The Rays are 6-2 in their past eight games, but they continue to struggle in New York. After getting three homers from Travis d'Arnaud on Monday in a 5-4 win, Tampa Bay did little offensively Tuesday besides solo homers from Austin Meadows and Yandy Diaz. The Rays dropped to 2-6 in the Bronx this year.

The Rays have allowed 29 homers in the season series after allowing four on Tuesday, including the game-changing blows in the eighth inning.

"I hope not," Rays manager Kevin Cash said when asked if his team has lost the momentum from Monday's stirring win. "I certainly hope not. Look, we had a great game (Monday night). We won, then we come out here (Tuesday). We played a really good game. We came up short a little bit."

The pitching matchup for Wednesday features two young right-handers in good grooves of late. Tampa Bay's Yonny Chirinos (8-4, 3.11 ERA) and New York's Domingo German (11-2, 3.40).

Chirinos began this season splitting time as a starter and a reliever but has made nine straight appearances as a starter since May 27. In those outings, he is 3-3 with a 3.04 ERA, and he hopes his teammates start off fast for him again Wednesday.

Chirinos allowed two runs on four hits in seven innings Friday in Baltimore. He had a seven-run lead before throwing a pitch.

He is 2-2 with a 3.06 ERA in six career appearances (three starts) against the Yankees.

German is attempting to join Texas Rangers right-hander Lance Lynn as the majors' second 12-game winner. German, who is 2-0 with a 0.75 ERA in two starts since returning from a hip injury, pitched six innings of three-hit ball on Friday in a 4-0 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

He is 2-0 with a 6.75 ERA in four career appearances (three starts) against the Rays.

--Field Level Media

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