NEW YORK — Sitting behind his desk in the visitor’s clubhouse early Saturday morning, Joe Maddon needed just five words to describe what had taken place for more than five hours at Yankee Stadium.
“It was a crazy game,” Maddon said.
Moments earlier his Tampa Bay Rays finished off the New York Yankees 10-5 in 14 innings.
It was the third straight victory for his club, and all three wins took place in a 36-hour window.
“I’m so impressed with our guys and their ability to stay motivated,” Maddon said. “It’s pretty amazing. If you’re a Rays fan you got to be pretty proud of your players right now.”
The Rays swept a doubleheader Thursday in Boston, reached New York City in the wee hours of Friday then played a 5-hour, 49-minute marathon that featured just about everything.
Here’s a rundown:
♦ The Rays blew leads in the eight and ninth innings and still won by five runs.
♦ They hit into five double plays and turned a 4-3-3-6-3-4-3-4-5-2 double play that featured eight throws.
♦ Heath Bell pitched 2 1/3 innings for the victory.
♦ Wil Myers played first base when the Rays used a five-man infield in the 13th inning and recorded a putout as Ichiro Suzuki hit into the rare 3-9 groundout.
♦ Derek Jeter was 0-for-7.
♦ Maddon used his replay challenge to have a call at first base overturned in the ninth inning.
♦ Yankee manager Joe Girardi used his challenge to have a call overturned at first base in the 13th inning.
♦ Maddon was ejected for arguing the result of that challenge.
♦ Evan Longoria, Myers, Sean Rodriguez and James Loney – the Rays’ 3-through-6 hitters – were a combined 13-for-24 with six runs scored, two doubles, three walks, a hit-by-pitch and six RBI.
“Hopefully that can jump start us and get us heading in the right direction,” David Price said. “That was the definition of a team win right there.”
Price started for the Rays and gave them seven innings. He would have liked to have gone deeper but he threw a season-high 118 pitches.
It just the type of start the Rays needed from their ace given the bullpen was gassed and the team was a tad fatigued from playing the day/night doubleheader Thursday in Boston.
Price, who struck out eight and did not walk a batter, turned a 4-2 lead over to the bullpen.
Joel Peralta was the first reliever in the game and Maddon was hoping Peralta would be the last, too. Peralta retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth inning before surrendering back-to-back home runs by Mark Teixeira and Alfonso Soriano.
Evan Longoria put the Rays on top 5-4 in the ninth when he singled home Ben Zobrist.
Peralta returned for the bottom of the ninth but left after allowing a leadoff single to Brian Roberts.
Juan Carlos Oviedo replaced Peralta and retired the first two batters he faced before allowing a run-scoring single to Jacoby Ellsbury.
Brandon Gomes replaced Oviedo and picked Ellsbury off first base before throwing his first pitch. Ellsbury was originally called safe by Loney signaled to Maddon to challenge, and the call was reversed.
Gomes pitched a perfect 10th inning and retired the first batters he faced in the 11th before allowing a single to Roberts.
Bell, who hadn’t pitched since Monday night in Chicago, replaced Gomes and got out of the inning despite allowing a hit to the first batter he faced.
Ellsbury singled off Bell to start the 12th inning. Jeter bunted back to the mound, where Bell fielded the ball and threw to second for the force on Ellsbury. But the ball sailed into center field and everyone was safe.
Bell got Carlos Beltran to ground to Zobrist at second base, and Zobrist started the double play that featured all the throws. Beltran was retired at first base and Ellsbury was eventually tagged out by catcher Ryan Hanigan after a rundown.
The Rays nearly turned a similar double play in the 13th inning but only got one out as runners ended up on second and third. The Rays went to the five-man infield, sending Myers to first base and Rodriguez, who moved to first base from left field after Loney left for a pinch-runner in the top of the inning, took up a position near second base.
That’s exactly where Suzuki hit the ball.
“(Myers) asked Ben, ‘What should I do?’ And we were like, ‘Just catch it of it comes to you and keep your foot on the bag.’ He did that,” Bell said.
Bell then walked Ellsbury intentionally to load the bases, and Jeter left them loaded when he bounced back to Bell.
At that point the Yankees were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and had stranded 12 runners.
“We kept pushing and pushing and we never say die,” Bell said. “We believe in everybody, even putting Wil at first base. I think the guys believed in me even though we had some base hits early and I got in some jams. I kept bailing out of it. We stayed positive and kept going.”
The Rays offense came to life in the 14th, scoring five times off Chris Leroux, the seventh reliever used by Girardi.
Desmond Jennings drew a lead off walk, stole second and scored on a single by Myers and the Rays were on their way.
After going 11-16 in April, the Rays are 3-0 in May. Each of those wins came during adverse situations, beginning with the doubleheader they didn’t want to play but swept anyway.
“It shows we handle adversity,” Bell said. We had a bad month but we never gave up. We still believe in each other. The tide will change. We’ll get it.”