Luke Voit and Gleyber Torres each hit home runs for the Yankees, who benefitted from stellar pitching all night. Starter Jordan Montgomery tossed four innings of one-run ball before giving way to the bullpen, which tossed five no-hit innings and allowed just one baserunner on a walk.
The Rays had an opportunity for a big third inning after putting runners on second and third with no outs, but they could only score one run off a Brandon Lowe RBI groundout. Tampa Bay had just three hits on the night.
New York and Tampa Bay are tied at two games apiece in their best-of-five series. New York took Game 1 by a 9-3 score before Tampa Bay won the next two games 7-5 and 8-4.
Yankees SP Jordan Montgomery: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
Yankees RP Chad Green (Win): 2.0 IP, 2 K
Yankees 1B Luke Voit: 1-for-4, HR, 1 R, 1 RBI
Yankees SS Gleyber Torres: 2-for-3, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI
Rays SP Ryan Thompson (Loss): 1.2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
Rays RP Ryan Yarbrough: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K
Yankees' Excellent Pitching Forces Game 5
New York's pitching left much to be desired in Games 2 and 3.
The infamous Game 2 featured the Yankees opting for an opener strategy and starting 21-year-old Deivi Garcia, who allowed one earned run in one frame before giving way to starter-turned-long reliever J.A. Happ.
The southpaw proceeded to allow four earned runs in two-and-a-third innings, and the Yanks eventually lost 7-5.
In Game 3, starter Masahiro Tanaka arguably found himself on the wrong end of strike zone luck but ultimately allowed five earned runs in just four innings of work en route to an 8-4 loss.
Facing elimination in Game 4, the Yanks needed a strong start from Jordan Montgomery and a stellar bullpen outing to beat the pesky Rays, and they collectively got the job done.
Despite a shaky third inning, Montgomery was largely fantastic and wiggled his way out of potentially precarious situations.
He allowed a leadoff first-inning single but soon induced a double play.
In the fourth inning, Montgomery put runners on first and second with two outs, but he got Kevin Kiermaier to ground out and end the frame.
Montgomery received much credit for his work to keep the Yanks in the game:
From there, manager Aaron Boone was tasked with building a bridge from Montgomery to closer Aroldis Chapman.
Chad Green, Zach Britton and Chapman combined for five shutout innings, allowing just one walk, no hits and punching out seven batters. Green and Britton combined to retire all 11 of their batters, with the latter pitcher so efficient that he could even be available for Game 5:
Their efforts took the pressure off the Yanks offense, which has carried the team for much of their playoff run.
A solo home run from Luke Voit in the second inning got the Yanks on the board:
LeMahieu later followed with a sacrifice fly in the same frame before Torres launched a two-run homer in the sixth to give the Yanks more than enough insurance:
Kyle Higashioka closed the scoring with an eighth-inning RBI single.
The Yankees' collective pitching efforts have now led to a Game 5 where they'll start staff ace Gerrit Cole, who has far and away been the team's best and most consistent pitcher.
He'll be opposed by Rays co-ace and right-hander Tyler Glasnow, however, in a game that looks like a low-scoring nail biter on paper.
Tide Changes for Tampa Bay After 3rd-Inning Opportunity Passes By
The Rays are left wondering what might have been had they started a big third-inning rally after a Willy Adames walk and Kevin Kiermaier double put runners on second and third with no out.
New York led 2-0 at that juncture, but the dangerous Rays had a chance to put the Yanks on the ropes with the lineup due to turn over after catcher Mike Zunino's turn at-bat.
Zunino struck out, but that brought leadoff hitter Yandy Diaz to the plate with a chance to put Tampa Bay in business.
However, the Rays got one run and nothing else.
Diaz walked to loaded the bases, bringing up the dangerous Brandon Lowe, who scorched a groundball to second base. DJ LeMahieu then made a clutch diving grab and threw out Diaz at second to get a second out and prevent further damage.
That brought up baseball's hottest hitter in Randy Arozarena, who entered Thursday hitting 12-of-20 in the playoffs with a homer in each ALDS game. Arozarena hit the ball hard, but it found the glove of third baseman Gio Urshela, who threw out the speedy outfielder at first to limit the damage to one run.
From that point forward, Tampa didn't do much at the dish, to the point where 12 straight batters were retired in the fourth through eighth innings. The Yanks' bullpen got the best of the Rays on this day, setting up a series-deciding Game 5.
That may not have been the case had the Rays mounted a multi-run rally in the third, but Tampa Bay's earlier series work has put the team in position to fight one more time.
The series-deciding Game 5 will take place Friday at 7:10 p.m. ET.
If the Yankees win, they'll battle the Astros in the ALCS for the third time in four years. They lost in seven games to Houston in 2017 before the Astros took down the Los Angeles Dodgers in the World Series.
Last season, the Yanks lost in six games to Houston, who preceded to fall four games to three to the Washington Nationals in the Fall Classic.
Tampa Bay has never faced Houston in the playoffs.
The best-of-seven series will not feature any off days. Game 7 (if necessary) will happen on Saturday, Oct. 17. TBS will televise the entire series.