Through four innings at least, the Tampa Rays completely muzzled the sweltering New York Yankee bats. The way the Bomber offense is going these days, that’s not nearly enough.

The Yanks trailed, 3-0 going into their half of the fifth inning before exploding for eight unanswered runs over the next three frames and winning, 8-4

It’s New York’s third win in a row and moves them to .500 after eight games.

Outfielder Aaron Judge continued to punish opposing pitching with two more hits, tying the game with a single in the sixth and putting them up comfortably with his third bomb of the season in seventh. He finished 2-for-3 with 3 RBI, 2 runs scored and a walk.

Chase Headley and Starlin Castro had two hits each.  Aaron Hicks drove in two runs.

Jordan Montgomery made his major league debut on the mound for the Yankees and while he didn’t pick up the win, he pitched well enough to keep them alive—allowing three runs on five hits with seven strikeouts and two walks over 4.2 innings.

Here’s some thoughts and takeaways from today:

♦ That’s three in a row for the Yanks and this one was the most impressive.  The offense is already thin with Gabe Sanchez and Greg Bird both out of the lineup.  Joe Girardi also gave Brett Gardner a rest today (well, to start anyway), sat Austin Romine to give Kyle Higashioka his first career start behind the plate and gave a start at short to Pete Kozma over team RBI leader Ronald Torreyes.  It didn’t matter.  The Yanks scratched and clawed their way to eight hits and four walks while producing timely hits and even productive outs.  Days like today make thinking about this lineup when fully healthy a lot of fun.

♦ Montgomery was decent in his MLB debut. He looked like Clayton Kershaw in the top of the first in striking out the first two batters he saw and getting ahead 0-2 on Evan Longoria.  Unfortunately he would lose him to a walk and Richie Weeks would crush a home run to give Tampa a 2-0 lead.  From there Montgomery navigated around trouble; stranding two in both the third and fourth innings before being pulled with two on and a two outs in the fifth.  Bryan Mitchell came in and made a nice pitch to Weeks but Castro booted a grounder and Steve Souza scored. 

Worst case he’s absolutely earned another start.

♦ Chase Headley is my Yankees MVP right now.  His leadoff base hits in both the fifth and sixth innings keyed the game’s turnaround. He went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and is hitting a blistering.393 through eight games.

♦ If Headley doesn’t have your vote for team early-season MVP I guarantee he has Tampa’s. He’s now has multiple hits in all five meetings between the clubs and is 11-for-18 (.611) against them.

♦ The last thing the Yankees can afford is another significant injury to a position player, so let’s hope Brett Gardner is OK.  Gardner pinch hit for Kozma in the sixth and hit a grounder up the middle to pitcher Xavier Cedeno, who threw the ball low at first to Weeks that caused a violent collision between the two.  Gardner was forced to leave the game, hopefully more for precautionary reasons. The team’s PR Department says he left with a bruised jaw and neck strain.  That sounds like a few missed days at a minimum.

♦ Is Judge gonna hit 30 home runs this year or nah? Sure seems like it based on these first nine games.

♦ Props to the six Yankee pitchers that induced 11 Tampa strikeouts.

♦ Fantasy fans of Aroldis Chapman still awaiting his first 2017 save opportunity in pinstripes, thank Jonathan Holder for giving up two ninth inning singles to get him in.  Chapman produced a pop out and strike out to end the game.

♦ New York goes for the sweep tomorrow evening with Luis Severino getting the ball against Matt Andriese.