ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — In a season full of strange twists so far, the New York Yankees turned a couple of odd hops into their latest victory.
Domingo German became the majors’ first seven-game winner, Gio Urshela got a key hit set up by a pair of bizarre bounces and the Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 4-3 on Friday night.
The injury-filled Yankees pulled within a half-game of the AL East-leading Rays in the first of 19 meetings between the teams this season. New York has won 15 of 20 while often relying on its non-All-Stars — the team currently has a dozen players on the injured list, including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton and Luis Severino.
“They’re focused everyday but also playing the game with some joy and having fun doing it,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “It’s a close-knit group that’s playing an unselfish brand of baseball.”
German (7-1) was matched up against Tyler Glasnow (6-1), who left in the sixth inning with right forearm tightness.
“I don’t really know what’s going on right now,” said Glasnow, who will have an MRI Saturday. “I’m just going to be optimistic. It wasn’t a pop or anything crazy. I just felt tightness for a couple pitches.”
Glasnow struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings. He signaled for a trainer after striking out Gleyber Torres and was pulled.
German allowed three runs and five hits over five innings. Aroldis Chapman, the fourth Yankees reliever, worked the ninth for his ninth save.
Home runs by Austin Meadows and Ji-Man Choi gave the Rays a 3-2 lead entering the sixth.
Gary Sanchez opened the Yankees sixth with an infield single on a popup that struck the highest of four overhanging catwalks — approximately 185 feet high — and fell in the infield as Tampa Bay players scrambled to catch the carom. The park’s ground rules say such balls are in play.
“Fortunately deflected far enough that we got a break there,” Boone said.
It’s the fifth fair ball to hit the “A″ ring at Tropicana Field — which opened in 1998 — and second that resulted in a hit.
Clint Frazier followed with a single and Torres fanned, finishing Glasnow. Emilio Pagan relieved and Miguel Andujar hit a grounder that took a crooked hop off the mound and went for an infield single that loaded the bases. Urshela then delivered a two-run single for a 4-3 lead.
“Probably our MVP at this point,” Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino said.
On Thursday night, Urshela entered in the seventh for defense and hit a two-run single in the eighth of a 3-1 victory over Seattle.
The Rays loaded the bases on two walks and a bunt single in the seventh. But Ottavino escaped by striking out Tommy Pham and getting Choi to hit a grounder off the pitcher’s leg that second baseman DJ LeMahieu fielded, raced to second for an out and threw to first to complete a nifty double play.
“I was fired up,” Ottavino said. “It was a grind of an inning.”
Meadows, reinstated from the 10-day injured list after missing 15 games with a strained right thumb, hit a two-run homer and Choi added a solo shot two batters later off German as the Rays went up in the fifth. German had allowed just two homers overall in six previous starts.
New York took a 2-0 lead in the first when LeMahieu scored on rookie Nick Ciuffo’s passed ball and Torres’ RBI single.
Torres was hit on the right elbow by a pitch in the eighth inning but stayed in the game.
“We’ll have to see what kind of swelling is in there,” Boone said. “But hoping that he avoided something serious.”
Yankees: LHP Jordan Montgomery (Tommy John surgery) will increase from 30 to 35 pitches and start incorporating curveballs in his next bullpen session Tuesday. “I’m starting to kind of see some light at the end of the tunnel in the bullpens when I’m throwing the ball and it’s going where I want it to,” Montgomery said. ... LHP James Paxton (left knee inflammation) is playing catch.
Rays: 3B Matt Duffy (left hamstring strain) is scheduled to resume a rehab assignment with Class A Charlotte Monday.
Boone said reliever Chad Green could rejoin the team from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre this weekend. He was optioned April 23 to work on mechanics after going 0-2 with a 16.43 ERA in 10 games.
Yankees LHP CC Sabathia (2-1) will go against Rays opener Ryne Stanek (0-1) on Saturday night.