Josh Donaldson delivers for New York Yankees with grand slam walk-off in 10th inning

Josh Donaldson knew the ball left the ballpark as soon as he left his bat. And the New York Yankees needed these.

Trailing 7-4 in the bottom of the 10th inning, they were swept by the Tampa Bay Rays and lost their fourth straight when Donaldson came on in the extra inning. But as his line-drive grand slam left the park, Donaldson knew the win meant more to the Yankees in the bigger picture amid their toughest stretch this season. The 8-7 walk-off win was only their third win this month, having lost 11 games since early August.

“The guys were excited, and I think when we talked about how the game was progressing and how the back-and-forth was going on there, we came back with our backs against the wall,” Donaldson said. “It released some joy and frustration.”

The Rays took the lead in the 10th inning when Francisco Mejia hit a basesloaded double with two outs in which Roman Quinn, Isaac Paredes and Taylor Walls scored. Amid the Yankees’ recent struggles with their late-inning relief and with Clay Holmes placed on the injured list earlier Wednesday after his worst spell of the season, closer Aroldis Chapman appeared to compound those problems, earning him two. points on one hit in two. third of an inning.

Even when New York’s odds of winning took a big hit – falling to 9.1% towards the bottom half of the 10th, according to FanGraphs – the Yankees believed they could still take the win.

“We never lose the vibe in the dugout when we were losing,” said third baseman Oswaldo Cabrera, who made his major league debut on Wednesday. “That was the key for today.”

With Aaron Judge on second base to start the inning, Gleyber Torres knocked a line-drive single into right field before a four-pitch walk to first baseman Anthony Rizzo Donaldson, the designated batter, brought in the bases loaded . With a 0-1 count, Donaldson took a pitch high in the zone and smashed Rays pitcher Jalen Beeks’ 96.6 mph fastball over the fence, sending Yankee Stadium into a frenzy.

“Just a great fight all night. Obviously it hasn’t been easy for us,” said Yankees manager Aaron Boone. “We’re in the fight and we keep fighting, and great to see that level of at bat when it looked like it had been stripped from us.”

With the Yankees struggling, there are calls from fans to bench Donaldson to give other players more time in the lineup. So far, in 2022, Donaldson has had one of the worst offensive seasons of his career, with .223/.307/.391 hitting 12 home runs in 97 games, with two years and $50 million left on his contract. Despite the noise, Boone remains with Donaldson, a decision that paid off at least on Wednesday night.

“Huge. He’s been grinding a lot, especially lately, to get on track,” Boone said. “He’s a great player and a great batter, and I continue to believe that it will come out here over a longer period of time, and that’s as big as you can get there.”

While the win didn’t break the Yankees’ streak of losing their past five series — against the Rays, Red Sox, Cardinals and Mariners (twice) — the evening was at least a temporary breath of fresh air as New York walked away on dramatic ground. manner with a win that seemed far off at the end of the top of the 10th.

“Of course it was a great win, no doubt, against a really good team that it’s hard to score against, especially behind when you’re behind like us,” said Boone.

The key for the Yankees will be to take the win and turn it into momentum for a team that has looked like a shell of its own since the All-Star break.

“We know we are a very good team. We are having a hard time right now and are going through it,” said Boone. “At the core, we know it’s a confident group. We need to focus and grind and get through it, and that was a special one that hopefully we can look back on with great pleasure.”

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