The way the Yankees have been hitting lately, their games have largely lacked drama because their lineup has not posed much threat of a comeback.
They made up for it in emphatic fashion Wednesday night.
After wiping out a four-run deficit to force extra innings and then falling behind by three runs in the top of the 10th, Josh Donaldson pulled the Yankees from the depths of despair with a walk-off grand slam for an 8-7 win in The Bronx.
With Aaron Judge the automatic runner on second base, a Gleyber Torres single and an Anthony Rizzo walk against Rays reliever Jalen Beeks loaded the bases for Donaldson, who had been stuck in a 3-for-28 slump. He shot an 0-1 pitch to the opposite field and it landed in the short porch to set off a wild celebration.
On a day that began with calling up Oswaldo Cabrera and Estevan Florial for a youthful injection to their lineup, the Yankees (73-45) won for the third time in their last 14 games and showed signs of rediscovering their mojo.
Aroldis Chapman lost the strike zone in the top of the 10th inning, but he was still one strike away from leaving the bases loaded with a 4-4 tie intact before Francisco Mejia grounded a bases-clearing double down the first-base line to put the Rays up 7-4
After pitching a scoreless ninth inning, Scott Effross retired the first batter of the 10th inning before giving way to Chapman, who inherited the automatic runner. Chapman started his outing by walking the first two batters he faced on nine pitches to load the bases.
Following a visit from pitching coach Matt Blake, Chapman struck out Jose Siri and then got an 0-2 count on Mejia before the decisive blow.
Chapman had been much improved of late. He entered the night with nine straight scoreless appearances in which he had allowed just one walk and three hits.
In the eighth inning, Anthony Rizzo delivered the big swing the Yankees had been missing. He crushed a solo home run into the right-field seats off Rays lefty Brooks Raley to tie the score 4-4 an inning after the Yankees had squandered a quality chance to tie it or take the lead.
The homer snapped a 2-for-26 funk in which Rizzo had been mired since he missed five games with back spasms.
The much-maligned Aaron Hicks pinch-hit for Isiah Kiner-Falefa to lead off the bottom of the ninth and struck out in an eight-pitch at-bat. Then, with two outs, Aaron Judge sent a charge into the crowd but flew out to the warning track in center field, sending the game to extras.
After a 63-minute rain delay in the top of the seventh — and a nice shoestring grab by Florial to keep the Rays’ lead at 4-2 shortly after play resumed — the Yankees showed signs of life in the bottom of the inning.
Jose Trevino led off with a broken-bat single and DJ LeMahieu, in his first appearance since Saturday because of a toe injury, followed with a pinch-hit single on the first pitch he faced. One out later, Andrew Benintendi walked to load the bases.
The Rays brought in reliever Pete Fairbanks, who promptly walked Aaron Judge on four pitches to bring the Yankees within 4-3.
But Gleyber Torres came up next and on the first pitch hit into an inning-ending double play.
Ron Marinaccio, called back up from Triple-A earlier in the day for the injured Clay Holmes, tossed 1 ²/₃ scoreless innings after the rain delay to keep the Yankees within striking distance.
Rays veteran Corey Kluber continued to torment his former team, limiting the Yankees to just two runs — on a Torres home run in the sixth — across six innings while striking out eight. In three starts against the Yankees this season, Kluber owns a 1.50 ERA.