In their continued quest for .500, the 73-78 Rays started Jake Odorizzi against Michael Pineda. Other than the customary honoring of legend Derek Jeter (the Rays gifted him a kayak), Tuesday’s game was of interest as it was the Rays’ debut of Nick Franklin, who was playing second and hitting fifth. Thanks to some help from Franklin, who was acquired in the David Price deal, the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the New York Yankees by a score of 6-1.
In the top of the second, Rays-Killer Chris Young lined a double down the left-field line before being driven-in by an Ichiro Suzuki single. This would be the only scoring off of Odorizzi, even though he seemed to be constantly pitching with runners on. Yet he managed to escape jams in the and 5th to put together a nice overall start as he went 6.0 innings of one-run ball while striking out three.
Meanwhile the Rays offense seemed overmatched through the first four innings by Pineda. The tall righty was locating his fastball well and getting Rays hitters to swing at hard breaking-pitches out of the zone. But in the 5th, Kevin Kiermaier got on base after his hustle caused Brendan Ryan to rush a throw. Ryan Hanigan followed with a walk, and Ben Zobrist hit a high chop towards first which was mishandled on the exchange by McCann and Pineda and the ball rolled away, which allowed Kiermaier to score from second. This tied the game in the bottom of the fifth at one.
In the 6th inning, Franklin hit an opposite field double for his first Rays hit. After stealing third, Franklin scored from on a bunt single by Yunel Escobar. This knocked Pineda from the game with 100 pitches and 5.1 innings thrown.
The Rays put up a crooked number in the seventh. With Esmil Rogers pitching for the Yankees, an Evan Longoria a single into left scored Zobrist for the first run of the inning. Loney followed with a bloop single, which put Franklin up to bat against lefty Rich Hill – swinging the switch-hitting Franklin around to bat from the right-hand side. Franklin delivered, driving the first pitch from Hill into left and scoring DeJesus. Overall it was a successful debut from Franklin, who gave us a glimpse of what could be to come in the future by going 2 for 4 with an RBI and a run scored.
The Rays then sent Wil Myers to bat and the Yankees countered with David Phelps. Myers scorched a pitch to deep center, on which Ellsbury made a fantastic diving catch, but, Longoria tagged up from third and James Loney hustled all the way around from second to score a rare two-run sac fly. By the end of the inning, the Rays were up 6 to 1.
In the following inning, with Steve Geltz pitching to Jeter, a pitch up bore-in and hit Jeter on the back of his hand. Both benches were warned, but Geltz surely wasn’t trying to hit Jeter during what was a very ceremonial moment (perhaps Jeter’s final at-bat at the Trop). Joe Girardi was then ejected for coming out and yelling at Geltz. C.J. Riefenhauser came on after the hullabaloo to get a weak pop-out and induce a double-play to end the inning.
In the bottom half of the 8th, two David Phelps pitches sailed very close to Kiermaier and Phelps was ejected, which seemed warranted after the earlier antics. A couple of Yankees, Esmil Rogers and Antoan Richardson, were ready to hop out of the dugout and gestured enough to instigate both benches clearing. Most excited of the Rays was Sean Rodriguez – leading this fan to wonder “who would be the Rays’ enforcer in these situations?” The drama settled down for the rest of the game, and the Rays held on to their lead.