ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- When a team is going as bad as the Yankees have been, a 3-2 victory can feel like a rout and a game decided by a scratched-across run can seem like the detonation of an offensive powder keg.
Whether today's win over the Rays becomes the start of the kind of winning streak they need to crawl back into the AL playoff hunt remains to be seen, but for one day at least, the Yankees stopped the bleeding in a tense, ultimately rousing game marked by terrific starting pitching and some big, and costly, defensive miscues, by both teams.
And one huge, timely hit by the guy who has more hits than anyone else in the ballpark.
Just like that, the five-game losing streak is over. Now, how long will the winning streak last?
St. Jetersburg: Derek Jeter brought The Trop to its feet by lining a 2-2 Jake McGee fastball clocked at 100 mph into right field, scoring Brett Gardner from second with the go-ahead run. Gardner had reached on a fluky play in which his bouncer up the middle glanced off McGee's glove and caromed to second baseman Ben Zobrist, who threw it away trying to nail the speedy Gardner, who wound up on second. It was only Jeter's second RBI in his past 11 games, but it's tough to remember him having a bigger one than this all season.
A crying Shane: Shane Greene pitched a tremendous game -- six-plus innings, seven hits, two runs and 10 K's -- but had to settle for a no-decision because of (once again) the Yankees' offense, and (once again) the Yankees' defense. Greene's pitches had a lot of movement on them, particularly his cutter, which was coming in at 87-88 mph and moving down and away, resulting in a lot of embarrassingly clumsy swings. But he was undone when Gardner couldn't make the play on Evan Longoria's soft liner in the sixth and his infield couldn't make a forceout in the seventh (details below).
Chipping away: The Rays cut the Yankees' 2-0 lead in half in the sixth when Matt Joyce, who singled with one out, went to third on a soft liner to left by Longoria that it appeared Gardner would catch, only to have the ball drop in front of him for a single. He might have lost it in the white background of the dome. Two batters later, Yunel Escobar lined one over Brendan Ryan's head at short to drive in Joyce.
Infield letdown: The Rays were able to manufacture the tying run in the seventh on a hit batter (Curt Casali, leading off), followed by what should have been a forceout on Kevin Kiermaier's bouncer to third. But when Chase Headley looked to second, Martin Prado, making his first start there as a Yankee, was nowhere to be found, having broken toward first. By the time Headley recovered, Kiermaier had beaten it out, giving the Rays runners at first and second with none out. A sacrifice bunt and an infield out later and the game was tied, and Greene could no longer get a win.
Martinized: Prado waxed and polished a high, 0-2 fastball from Drew Smyly, sending it over the left-field fence with Headley (walk) aboard to give the Yankees a 2-0 second-inning lead. It was Prado's second home run as a Yankee and the first run the Yankees had scored since the ninth inning of Wednesday's 5-2 loss to the Orioles in Baltimore.
Bullpen back on track: Dellin Betances worked a perfect eighth -- and hit 100 mph again -- to earn the win. David Robertson, who had not worked in nine days, threw a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his 32nd save. And Shawn Kelley pitched well in relief of Greene.