Jacoby Ellsbury and Chase Headley, whose roles in the Yankees’ lineup have changed lately, came off the bench Saturday to ignite a rally that beat the Tampa Bay Rays, 5-4, and gave the Yankees a sixth consecutive victory.
With the Rays leading, 3-2, in the sixth inning, Headley came in as a pinch-hitter and delivered a two-run home run. Then, with the game tied, 4-4, he led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk. Ellsbury came in as a pinch-runner and stole second base, then scored the winning run after Todd Frazier was hit by a pitch, Ronald Torreyes loaded the bases with a bunt single, and Brett Gardner hit a line-drive single.
Strong play by the rookie Clint Frazier has crowded the Yankees’ outfield and turned Ellsbury into a reserve. And since the Yankees’ recent acquisition of Todd Frazier, a third baseman from the Chicago White Sox, Headley’s role has become ambiguous.
Headley’s two-run home off Rays reliever Sergio Romo broke a 124-at-bat homerless streak. Since July 19, the day after the Todd Frazier trade, Headley has hit a robust .414.
The rookie Caleb Smith, making his second major league start and his debut at Yankee Stadium, gave up a home run to Tampa Bay’s Peter Bourjos on his second pitch of the game. As was the case last Sunday in Seattle, Smith did not last past the fourth inning, as Manager Joe Girardi pulled him after three and a third. Smith allowed two runs on three hits, with three walks.
Solid bullpen work kept the Yankees afloat until Headley’s home run, but Tampa Bay’s Lucas Duda, the slugger acquired from the Mets on Thursday, hit his second home run with his new club to tie the game in the eighth. The Rays had a…