Arozarena, Wander pull Rays within 3.5 games of Yankees

NEW YORK — Aaron Hicks was benched midway through the game after two consecutive unsuccessful attempts to sack fly balls in left field that turned into RBI doubles during the fourth inning and helped the Tampa Bay Rays win on Friday 4-2 to the New York Yankees.

The Rays closed within 3 1/2 games of the Yankees themselves, leaders of the American League East Division.

Cuban Randy Arozarena hit an RBI double in the first inning against Frankie Montas (5-12), to give Tampa Bay a lead that they have not relinquished.

the dominican Wander Franco hit a fly ball with two outs and two teammates on board in the fourth chapter. The ball fell from Hicks’ glove just off the foul line and just in front of the fence.

Hicks lowered his head for a few seconds, apparently thinking he had made the out and was in foul territory. Two runs went in before he reacted and picked up the ball.

Many of the 46,160 spectators who attended Yankee Stadium on a night in which former captain Derek Jeter was honored ended up booing Hicks.

On the next pitch, Arozarena hit another shot to left field. Hicks took a dozen steps back, following a wrong path on a difficult fly ball.

The ball fell behind him, in the warning strip, while Franco scored the 4-0.

Dominican rookie Estevan Florial replaced Hicks at the start of the fifth act, to cheers from the crowd. In the fourth season of a seven-year, $70 million contract, Hicks struck out twice and is batting .157 since the All-Star break, with two extra-base hits in 122 at-bats.

His batting average this season is .212 with 36 RBIs.

Drew Rasmussen (10-4), returning from the paternity list, allowed six hits in as many innings, not allowing a score. He had a career-high 10 strikeouts.

The Rays have won nine of 10 games and 15 of 18.

For the Rays, Cubans Yandy Díaz 4-2 with a run scored, Arozarena 5-3 with two RBIs. Dominicans Franco 5-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs, Manuel Margot 5-1, José Siri 4-0. Colombian Harold Ramírez 3-0. The Mexican Isaac Paredes 2-0. Panamanian Christian Bethancourt 4-1.

For the Yankees, Venezuelans Gleyber Torres 5-1, Oswaldo Cabrera 2-0, Oswald Peraza 3-0 with a run scored, Marwin González 4-0. The Dominicans Florial 1-0, Miguel Andújar 4-2, Ronald Guzmán 1-0.

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Arozarena, Wander pull Rays within 3.5 games of Yankees