ST. PETERSBURG -- Blake Snell hurled five effective innings and Corey Dickerson homered, helping the Rays put another dent in the Yankees' postseason hopes with a 2-0 victory on Thursday night at Tropicana Field.
Brad Miller drove in the game's first run to help Tampa Bay take the finale of this three-game series with New York, which fell to three games back -- with four teams to jump -- in the chase for the second American League Wild Card berth. That spot is now held by the Tigers, who won both ends of a doubleheader at Minnesota on Thursday.
Snell struck out six while scattering five hits against a Yankees club that went 0-for-8 with runners in scoring position. It was Snell's fourth career start against the Yankees, having made his Major League debut against them on April 23 in New York.
"It definitely feels good, but at the same time, I've got to keep doing better," Snell said. "I've got to keep seeing what I'm doing, keep pushing for quicker at-bats, going deeper into the count. I'm definitely happy about it."
Rookie Luis Cessa turned in a solid effort in his seventh big league start, permitting two runs and six hits over six innings. Cessa walked two and struck out six, but with Dickerson's sixth-inning solo homer, the right-hander has now served up 15 home runs in 58 2/3 innings.
"He gave up two runs in six innings; most of those games, we're going to win," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought he pitched a really good game tonight. The first run, it was questionable if that should have scored. He was not the problem. We didn't score any runs; that was the problem."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Baby steps: Snell pieced together his first scoreless outing since July 19 and was effective, even if he wasn't at his most efficient. He labored through the third inning, loading the bases, thanks in part to a 10-pitch walk to Mark Teixeira, but he got through it unscathed. Snell gave way to the bullpen after five innings, letting Chase Whitley get some work, but the rookie left-hander showed his potential in his second-to-last start of the year.
"Really good start by Blake," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "He kind of rebounded from his last couple. The changeup was good, the slider was exceptional today. That's the pitch that we've been missing a little bit. It was good to see. He threw it to righties and lefties both and had a lot of positive results from it." More >
Respect my authority: One night after Sanchez hit two homers, it was the impressive rookie's arm that demanded attention. In the third inning, Sanchez threw out Kevin Kiermaier in a steal attempt at second base that was overturned in the Yankees' favor, snapping a string of 18 consecutive steals for Kiermaier. Sanchez then whipped a throw down to second base in the fourth inning to pick off Curt Casali.
"Those are really big outs," Girardi said. "Casali has a leadoff double, they're going to bunt him over, he picks him off. He throws out Kiermaier with [Evan] Longoria up. Those are big outs. He can help you in so many ways."
Dickerson provides insurance: Dickerson drilled the first pitch he saw from Cessa to double Tampa Bay's cushion with his 23rd homer, pulling within one of his career high. He is third on the Rays in home runs this year.
Lost in the roof: To open the bottom of the first, right fielder Aaron Hicks had trouble finding Logan Forsythe's fly ball, which fell in front of him and proved to be costly. Kiermaier moved Forsythe to second base with a single, and Miller cashed in the Rays' first run by grounding a single to left field.
"He never saw it," Girardi said of Hicks. "He didn't pick it up."
"I don't worry about that. Sanchez comes in to hit, I throw like [against] the other hitters. Fastball for a strike. He has to hit it. I'm not afraid of him." -- Rays closer Alex Colome, on leaving Sanchez on deck to end the game
SOUND SMART WITH YOUR FRIENDS
The last time Whitley pitched at Tropicana Field, he was a member of the Yankees. It was on May 14, 2015, in St. Petersburg that he sustained the forearm injury that would end his season and keep him out most of 2016 as a result of Tommy John surgery. With 2 2/3 innings on Thursday, he hasn't allowed a run in 6 2/3 frames this season.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Yankees successfully challenged the third-inning call at second base on Kiermaier's steal attempt. A review of 54 seconds overturned the call, as it was determined second baseman Donovan Solano received Sanchez's throw and slapped a tag on Kiermaier's helmet before he reached the bag.
WHAT'S NEXT Yankees: Right-hander Bryan Mitchell (1-1, 6.00 ERA) will make his fourth start of the season on Friday as the Yankees open a four-game set with the Blue Jays at Rogers Centre that Girardi called his club's most important series of the season. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07 p.m. ET. Left-hander Francisco Liriano will take the ball for Toronto.
Rays:Chris Archer (8-18, 4.05 ERA) has the talent to avoid becoming the first Rays pitcher in history to absorb 19 losses in a season, but he'll be up against an unforgiving Boston offense at Tropicana Field on Friday at 7:10 p.m.