EditorsNote: Updates graf 5 with playoff standings following Oakland’s win
Tampa Bay ace Charlie Morton made his final regular-season start a strong one, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning as the Rays boosted their wild-card hopes with a 4-0 win over the New York Yankees on Wednesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.
In their regular-season home finale at Tropicana Field, the Rays scored two runs in the first inning and let Morton, a two-time All-Star, take care of business against the Yankees, who lead the majors in runs.
Morton (16-6) fired six innings of one-hit ball, striking out nine, walking three and lowering his ERA to 3.05.
Relievers Diego Castillo, Oliver Drake, Nick Anderson and Andrew Kittredge completed the one-hit shutout. Rays pitchers struck out 16 and walked five.
With the win, Tampa Bay (95-64) kept pace with Oakland (95-63) and remain one-half game behind the A’s for the first American League wild-card spot. The Rays moved 1 1/2 games ahead of Cleveland (93-65) for the second and final wild-card spot. The visiting Indians lost 8-3 against the Chicago White Sox, and the A’s scored two in the ninth to beat the Los Angeles Angels 3-2 in Anaheim, Calif.
The Rays finished 48-33 at home but were just 7-12 against the Yankees in the season series.
New York (102-57) scored one run in 21 innings while getting swept in the two-game series.
After Tampa Bay pulled out a 2-1 win in 12 innings on Tuesday night, the Rays matched that run total in the first inning Wednesday against opener Jonathan Loaisiga (2-2).
Joey Wendle homered on a 2-0 pitch leading off the frame. The lefty hitter belted a 99-mph fastball from Loaisiga for his third long ball of the season.
Austin Meadows, Ji-Man Choi and Brandon Lowe soon produced singles to make it 2-0.
Morton baffled the Yankees with his curveball, spinning it up to the plate at a number of speeds, through 5 2/3 hitless innings. However, DJ LeMahieu inside-outed a single to right to break up the no-hit bid in the sixth.
Morton followed that with a walk to Aaron Judge, but the righty kept the Yankees scoreless by retiring Brett Gardner on a grounder to second base.
Matt Duffy grounded a double inside third base with one out in the bottom of the sixth, and Avisail Garcia chugged all the way from first to make it 3-0.
With Judge representing the tying run at the plate and two outs in the eighth, Anderson fanned the slugger with a 98-mph fastball.
Garcia (2-for-4) added an insurance run with a solo homer, his 20th, off Luis Cessa in the eighth.
—Field Level Media