NEW YORK (AP) — Travis d’Arnaud hit three home runs, including a startling, three-run shot with two outs in the ninth inning off Aroldis Chapman, and the Tampa Bay Rays overcame their Yankee Stadium woes to beat New York 5-4 on Monday night.
D’Arnaud went the other way on a full-count breaking ball, lofting a go-ahead drive that sailed over the leap of right fielder Aaron Judge. Several Rays players spilled from the dugout to congratulate d’Arnaud while a crowd of 43,173 fell silent.
The catcher tied a Tampa Ray record for homers in a game. It has been done five times, most recently by Evan Longoria in 2012.
The Yankees had been 49-0 this season when leading after eight innings. The Rays won for just the second time in seven games in the Bronx this year and cut the Yankees’ lead in the AL East to five games.
Andrew Kittredge (1-0) got the win despite allowing Edwin Encarnacion’s second homer of the game, a two-run shot in the eighth that put the Yankees up 4-2. Oliver Drake got one out for his first save.
Chapman (2-2) gave up a pair of singles to begin the ninth, struck out the next two batters and then was tagged for d’Arnaud’s ninth homer of the season.
The 30-year-old backstop has had a tumultuous season, having been designated for assignment by the Mets, signed by the Dodgers and traded to the Rays five days later.
But on this night, none of that mattered as he became the first catcher to hit three homers in a game against the Yankees.
D’Arnaud led off the game with a homer to right field on a fastball over the middle of the plate. In the third, he hit another to a similar location on the same pitch from James Paxton — a fastball down the middle.
D’Arnaud had never batted leadoff before this season, but the innovative Rays have slotted him there seven times. He reached base in all five of his plate appearances Monday, with two walks. It was the fourth multihomer game of d’Arnaud’s career and second this season.
Tampa Bay had lost 14 straight series openers at Yankee Stadium.
Before Encarnacion’s go-ahead homer, the Yankees kept themselves in the game with some outstanding defense.
Judge threw out a runner at third from right field, catcher Gary Sanchez picked a runner off second and Gio Urshela showed off his elite glove at third. Center fielder Aaron Hicks also ran down two long drives.
Encarnacion, who began the day batting just .139 since being acquired from Seattle last month, hit a solo shot in the fourth off Blake Snell. After hooking a fastball foul, the slugger drove the next pitch in the same direction a few feet inside the foul pole.
Urshela made it 2-all with a home run in the seventh. Encarnacion hit his 27th of the season, good for second in the AL.
Snell bounced back from his last start at Yankee Stadium, in which the AL Cy Young Award winner gave up six runs while getting only one out last month. The left-hander tossed five innings of one-run ball.