In a battle to avoid falling to the cellar of the AL East, the Yankees opened a three-game set with the host Tampa Bay Rays on Friday night and won the opener by a final score of 4-1.
Masahiro Tanaka continued to be lights out for the Yankees, allowing just two hits while cruising through seven scoreless innings on just 82 pitches. New York is now 7-3 in games started by Tanaka this season.
Offensively, the Yankees used a three-run sixth inning, keyed by a two-run home run from Alex Rodriguez, to take a 3-0 lead. Carlos Beltran added insurance for the Yankees with an eighth inning solo shot, his second home run of the week, to make it 4-0.
Kirby Yates allowed a solo homer to Steve Pearce with two outs in the ninth, but Aroldis Chapman came in to cement the 4-1 win for the Yankees.
THE PLAY: A-Rod’s two-run blast in the 6th (+.216 WPA)
In just his second game back from injury, Alex Rodriguez blasted a two-run home run to center field, scoring Brian McCann to give the Yankees a 3-0 lead in the sixth inning. The home run was Rodriguez’s sixth of the season.
Yankees: Masahiro Tanaka (7 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 K, 0 BB)
Rays: Chris Archer (8 IP, 4 R (1 ER), 7 K, 3 BB, 2 HR)
– Masahiro Tanaka didn’t allow his first hit until the bottom of the fifth when Steve Pearce led off with a single to center field.
– A-Rod’s sixth inning home run was the 693rd homer of his career, moving him closer to the vaunted 700 home run club.
– Jacoby Ellsbury is now 18-for-28 (.643) in his career against Chris Archer with a 2-for-4 performance tonight.
THE HIGHLIGHT: Starlin Castro’s spectacular play up the middle
The Yankees (23-24) look to get to .500 with a win over Tampa Bay in game two of this series on Saturday afternoon at 4:10 pm. Michael Pineda (2-5, 6.34) takes the mound for New York while Matt Moore (1-3, 5.47) goes for the Rays in a battle of struggling righties. The game will be televised on WPIX 11.
Photo: Kim Klement / USATSI; Video: MLBAM