As the New York Yankees were on their way to securing a close win over the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday, they were working on acquiring left-handed slugger Joey Gallo from the Texas Rangers.
Manager Aaron Boone heard rumblings of the deal from fans and then joked about it while in the midst of discussing the win.
While the front office hopes to finalize the acquisition of Gallo, the Yankees seek a three-game sweep of the Rays on Thursday afternoon when the American League East foes conclude their series in St. Petersburg, Fla.
With ace Gerrit Cole (10-5, 2.74 ERA) on the mound, the Yankees are seeking their first three-game road sweep of the Rays since April 17-19, 2015. Since that point, the Yankees own a 25-31 road record against Tampa Bay, but they are 4-1 in their past five visits.
The last two wins were nail biters that have helped the Yankees attempt to recover from a disastrous weekend in Boston, where they lost three of four, including Sunday when they blew a four-run lead in the eighth to the Red Sox.
"We're playing for a lot," Boone said. "We understand where we are and how well we need to play."
On Tuesday, the Yankees held on for a 4-3 win when Aroldis Chapman struck out Nelson Cruz. A night later, the Yankees pulled out a 3-1 win when Aaron Judge hit a tiebreaking single in the 10th inning and first baseman DJ LeMahieu made a game-ending diving catch with two on to end it.
Judge's hits and LeMahieu's catch occurred as the Yankees were reportedly inching toward acquiring Gallo, who was scratched from the lineup in Texas on Wednesday.
"I just heard about it towards the end of the game," LeMahieu said. "I've heard nothing but good things about him. If it happens, I'll be really excited."
Tampa Bay is trying to avoid falling further behind the first-place Red Sox before hosting them for three games on Friday. The Rays have scored just six runs during their first three-game losing streak since a seven-game skid June 15-22.
The Rays were held to three hits and struck out 11 times while getting only four at-bats with runners in scoring position. Brandon Lowe drove in the only run with a double but struck out three times in his other at-bats while Austin Meadows, Randy Arozarena and Yandy Diaz were a combined 0-for-10.
"You got to credit their pitching," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Their pitching has been really, really good. Our offense can certainly find a way to do a little bit more and create a little bit more pressure, but you understand watching it from the side these guys are featuring really good stuff, and that's why there have been some low-scoring games."
Besides hoping their offense comes alive, the Rays will likely have to add an arm after Pete Fairbanks was diagnosed with right shoulder inflammation. Fairbanks allowed Judge's hit and then exited and seems headed for a second injured list stint after missing 25 games earlier this year with a strained right rotator cuff.
Cole is 1-5 with a 3.82 ERA in 10 career starts against the Rays. His only win over Tampa Bay was May 12, when he struck out 12 in eight innings of a 1-0 victory in St. Petersburg.
Cole is coming off a pair of starts with mixed results against Boston. On July 17, he struck out 11 and allowed one run in a six-inning complete game due to rain but Friday in Boston, he allowed three runs on six hits in five innings of a 6-2 loss.
Luis Patino (1-2, 5.26), who has been rocked for 11 runs (nine earned) on 12 hits in his past two starts, takes the mound Thursday for the Rays. He last pitched a week ago when he allowed four runs and five hits in 5 1/3 innings and took a no-decision in Tampa Bay's 5-4 win in Cleveland.
Patino is pitching at home for the fourth time this season and first time since allowing two runs in four innings in a 3-1 loss to the Yankees on May 11. At home, Patino owns a 1.04 ERA in three appearances.
--Field Level Media