NEW YORK (AP) — The Savages of The Stadium. That’s what the New York Yankees are in the mind of manager of Aaron Boone.
Boone got fired up at rookie umpire Brennan Miller in a profane second-inning rant, and New York awoke from a sleepy start to rally past the Tampa Bay Rays 6-2 in the opener of a doubleheader sweep Thursday.
New York rallied to win the second game 5-1 and reopen an eight-game AL East lead over the second-place Rays. Luke Voit tied the score in the fifth with his first home run since June 14, and catcher Mike Zunino caused Charlie Morton to balk home the tiebreaking run in a four-run sixth that included Didi Gregorius’ two-run single. The Yankees won three straight after wasting a ninth-inning lead in the series opener and improved to 34-11 against the AL East, including 12-5 against Tampa Bay.
After Domingo Germán gave up homers to the first two batters of the doubleheader, Gio Urshela hit a tying home run in the second off Yonny Chirinos. And then Boone indelibly imprinted his temper on the Yankees season.
Brett Gardner took a 1-2 splitter on or off the inside of the plate for strike three, returned to the dugout, slammed his bat into the helmet cubbyholes nine times and then eight times into the dugout roof. Microphones caught Boone yelling that the pitch was outside to Miller, a Triple-A International League crew chief who made his big league debut April 20 as a call-up umpire.
Miller said, “I heard you, Aaron,” and when Boone persisted, the umpire ejected him. Boone ran out and kept up the argument, getting close to Miller’s face and clapping his hands for emphasis in a profanity filled performance that would have made Billy Martin proud.
“My guys are f------ savages in that f------ box, right? And you’re having a piece of s--- start to this game. I feel bad for you, but f------ get better,” Boone said, going on to repeat his thoughts several times. He told Miller to “tighten it up right now, OK?”
Asked whether Boone went too far with his use of profanity, crew chief Gerry Davis replied: “Yes, absolutely.”
Boone’s colorful expression was being sold as a t-shirt online before the first game ended.
“He’s been calling us savages all year,” Voit said. “Not a lot of coaches I think would back it up and use that type of word, but I think we appreciate it — and we are a bunch of savages.”
Chirinos had thrown a 1-1 pitch to Aaron Judge in the first that appeared to be low before dropping a splitter into the strike zone for strike three.
“Just a big game, and just felt like some things weren’t going our way there early, and it felt like it needed to be known,” Boone said. “Sometimes in the heat of the battle, you just kind of utter some things. But I feel that way about our guys, no doubt.”
Boone was tossed for the third time this season and the seventh time in two years as a big league manager.
“Certainly didn’t want anyone else getting tossed. We were pretty heated there, several of our guys there in the first couple of innings,” Boone said. “So I just felt it was necessary in that spot to kind of take the attention off some of the other guys.”
Gardner called them “terrible pitches” that “completely changes how an at-bat shakes out.” He laughed about going batty in the dugout.
“I can’t throw my helmet anymore,” he said. “Just making noise. Just being me.”
After Wednesday night’s rainout was rescheduled as part of the doubleheader, the start was delayed 1 hour, 26 minutes because more rain was forecast. Austin Meadows homered on Germán’s fourth pitch and Díaz on his eighth, both curveballs.
Germán (12-2) rebounded to win his third straight start since recovering from a hip injury and tie for the big league lead in wins, allowing four hits in six innings. Boone’s tirade inspired him.
“I loved it,” Germán said through a translator. “Personally, I fed off that energy.”
Gary Sánchez smashed a go-ahead 110 mph single off the glove of third baseman Yandy Díaz during a three-run fifth. Díaz had helped the Yankees come alive when he dropped Gregorius’ leadoff popup in the second for a two-base error.
Voit singled in a run in the fifth and Urshela had an RBI double as part of a three-hit game. Aaron Hicks added a sixth-inning homer .
Chirinos (9-5) gave up five runs — four earned — and in five innings.
In the second game, Luis Cessa (1-1) allowed two hits in 3 1/3 scoreless innings to win for the first time since July 9 last year and the Yankees improved to 8-0 when using Chad Green as an opener. Green escaped a bases-loaded, no-outs jam in the first , and Morton matched his season high by allowing five runs in 5 2/3 innings.
Nate Lowe’s RBI double put the Rays ahead in the third. Morton (11-3) balked when Zunino tried to call time before the first pitch to Gregorius and the pitcher stopped his motion — even though plate umpire Pat Hoberg didn’t grant Zunino’s request.
“I saw something that I wasn’t comfortable about,” Zunino said. “I wanted to try to save our situation there a little bit. I was just a little too late in doing that.”
Gregorius, adding to his Twitter emojis after Yankees win, debuted his Instagram portraits of Yankees teammates this week with Edwin Encarnación with a parrot on his right arm, a reference to Encarnación’s parrot wing motion during home run trots. He added Urshela and Cessa on Thursday.
Rays: LHP Brendan McKay (1-0) will be recalled to start Friday against the Chicago White Sox.
Yankees: Pushed back because of the rainout, LHP J.A. Happ (7-5) is slated to start Friday against Colorado.