TAMPA, FL – Tuesday marked the first meeting of four this spring between the Tampa Bay Rays and the AL East division rival New York Yankees. Meeting numero uno was on the Yanks home turf at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa. It would pit CC Sabathia against Jake Odorizzi and give fans a small taste of what’s to come between these two clubs on April 2nd when these same Yankees come to Tropicana Field for Opening Day.
The Rays would send out a lineup that, at least the top half, could look very similar to what you’ll see come Opening Day:
LF Corey Dickerson
CF Kevin Kiermaier
3B Evan Longoria
RF Steven Souza Jr
DH Curt Casali
C Jesus Sucre
1B Michael McKenry
2B Daniel Robertson
SS Willy Adames
RHP Jake Odorizzi
Odorizzi was making his second start of the spring and pitched very well his first time out in just two short innings against the Phillies back on March 1st.
Even though it’s early March, it’s still worth noting that the Rays were 8-11 against these Yankees during the 2016 regular season but came into the game Tuesday on a four-game Grapefruit League winning streak against New York.
It was looking good for the Rays right out of the gate off Sabathia (making his first start of the spring) as they loaded the bases off the lefty in the first inning. Kiermaier and Longoria singled after Dickerson’s lead off fly out. Casali drew a four-pitch walk after that but Sucre flew out to leave the bases juiced.
The Yankees jumped on Odorizzi early, as well. After he retired Ronald Torreyes to lead off, he allowed three straight hits including a double to Gary Sanchez. Chris Carter would drive home the first run of the game bringing home Sanchez from third a couple batters later for a 1-0 New York lead.
After a 31-pitch first inning, Odorizzi was back out to the hill for the second on a 3-inning or 45-pitch limit. He struck out the first two hitters faced in the inning before the Yankees would have Dustin Fowler and Torreyes single off him in back to back at bats. A strikeout of Sanchez got him out of the inning, and his outing, with no other runs across.
Sabathia would be done after two innings, himself, making way for RHP Adam Warren. Kiermaier would continue to hit well this spring, singling off the new Yankees pitcher with one out in the top of the third. That would be all the Rays could muster in the inning leaving KK aboard.
Andrew Kitteredge would come in and retire the Yankees in order to relieve Odorizzi in the bottom of the third inning on 14 pitches including a strikeout.
Austin Pruitt would struggle a bit in the fourth and give up the second run of the game to New York after three straight singles plated another thanks to a Torreyes RBI single.
It would be a rough top of the fifth for Warren as the Rays would break out the lumber. Willy Adames would lead off with a home run and Corey Dickerson would follow with an opposite field bomb of his own to tie the game at two.
Adames would come through again in the sixth and give the Rays their first lead of the ballgame with a bases loaded sac fly. The Yankees would answer back quickly in the bottom of the seventh with a two-run inning to retake the lead. However, Ryan Brett would hit the third home run of the day for the Rays in the eighth to tie things up and eventually send the game to extra innings.
A costly error in the top of the 10th with two runners aboard would cost the Yankees. Joe McCarthy hit a ground ball to first base that Francisco Diaz who botched a throw from first base, scoring Justin Williams from second. Brett would score Luke Maile on a sac fly the very next at bat to give the Rays a 6-4 lead heading to the bottom of the 10th.
Jeff Walters would be called on to save the game for the Rays in the 10th and it wouldn’t be pretty. Ruben Tejada, with runners on second and third, would hit a sac fly to pull New York within a run. Then, after a walk to Pete Kozma, the game would be tied once again after a two-out double by Rashad Crawford, also moving the game-winning run to third base. That brought up Tyler Wade who was already 2-for-3 in the game. Wade would send the Rays home heart broken with his game-winning, walk off RBI single.
Your final score from Tampa: Yankees 7 Rays 6
The Rays drop to 6-4 on the spring and New York to a MLB-best record of 10-3.
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