Friday night’s game certainly featured its highlights for the Tampa Bay Rays. Allan Dykstra hit a three-run home run off the right field foul pole, his first blast in the big leagues, to give the Rays a 3-2 lead, and Logan Forsythe followed with a solo shot to make it 4-2. Nate Karns looked solid, throwing 106 pitches in his 5 innings but holding the Yankees to just two runs. However, none of it mattered in the end as Alex Rodriguez looked like the player he once was to lead the New York Yankees to victory.
A-Rod got started in the second inning, when he hit a long solo homer off Karns, and then came through again after the Rays had taken the lead. Ernesto Frieri was the victim as Rodriguez hit his second homer of the game, a two-run shot, to knot the game at 4. Then, against Kevin Jepsen, A-Rod finished his huge day with a line drive single just in front of Brett Gardner to give New York the 5-4 advantage that proved to be the final in the game.
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The biggest takeaway from this game is that Karns is putting the work in to avoid being as up and down as he was at Triple-A. He probably won’t allow only two runs the next time he allows a pair of homers, but as his curveball proved ineffective, he found a way to keep battling with the help of more changeups. Though Karns has only thrown his changeup 8.32% of the time for his career, he upped that to 18.9% in this game with much success.
Staying with the pitchers, C.J. Riefenhauser was called up before the game as Jeff Beliveau went on the 15-day DL with left shoulder soreness. He immediately came into a big spot, a tie game in the seventh inning, and tossed a scoreless inning working around a walk. Riefenhauser is a pitcher that the Rays like a lot, and they are hoping that he can work past his struggles at Triple-A Durham that date back to his oblique injury from last season.
Other positives for the Rays included Steve Geltz‘s perfect ninth inning with a strikeout, Steven Souza‘s 2-for-4 day with a stolen base, and Logan Forsythe’s 3-for-4 performance that was capped by that homer. Evan Longoria was also in the lineup after leaving Thursday’s game early and went 1 for 3 with a walk and a run scored. The two homers by Dykstra and Forsythe did not prove to be enough, but it was nice to see a quartet of hitters having solid games.
The loss drops the Tampa Bay Rays to 6-5 on the season, and they will hope to rebound against the Yankees tomorrow. Jake Odorizzi, who has been ridiculous to begin the year, will oppose Masahiro Tanaka in a game that will begin at 7:10 PM EST at Tropicana Field.