Offense, defense, pitching a winning blend for Yanks
Sabathia gets win thanks to triple play and Solarte's first homer
ST. PETERSBURG -- To get a sense of the feeling in the clubhouse on Thursday evening, you needed to look no further than the locker assigned to Yangervis Solarte, where the 27-year-old rookie was still beaming after his eventful nine innings at Tropicana Field.
Solarte started a 5-4-3 triple play behind CC Sabathia, New York's third in four years, then slugged his first Major League home run. Brian McCann and Alfonso Soriano also went deep for the Yankees, who had plenty to celebrate, the most important of which was a 10-2 victory over the Rays, their fifth straight win.
"This is incredible for me. I don't want to wake up," Solarte said through an interpreter. "I want to keep working hard and doing what I'm doing right now."
Playing under the white roof at the Trop has not been a particularly pleasant assignment for the Yankees in recent years, especially when they have had to watch Sabathia lock up against David Price, a meeting of former Cy Young Award winners that rarely tilted in Sabathia's favor.
The Yanks flipped that script as Sabathia turned in his best outing of the young season. New York pounded Price for six runs in five innings, with six of their 10 hits off him going for extra bases, highlighted by back-to-back homers by Soriano and McCann in the fifth.
"The big thing is to get off to a good start on the road trip," manager Joe Girardi said. "To get CC being able to complete what he started, that's the big thing for me."
Solarte, who won a spot on the team with a torrid spring and has served as a spark in the first two weeks of the season, put an exclamation point on his night with a two-run homer to right field off Grant Balfour in the ninth inning.
"I just tried to hit the ball hard, and that happens. I didn't even try," he said.
Girardi said that Solarte is "probably hoping that he doesn't wake up" from this dream season, one that he started as a non-roster invitee to camp. Solarte planned to give the ball to his mother, Yanmili.
"If you looked at [Solarte] in Spring Training, it's not that surprising," Sabathia said. "But for him to come up and still be swinging the bat the way he is is awesome."
The action started early, as McCann ripped an RBI single in the first inning, and the Yankees added three runs in the second. Brian Roberts and Jacoby Ellsbury both legged out run-scoring triples, and Derek Jeter had an RBI single.
"This is one start; everybody's going to have their bad days," Price said. "We didn't have a particularly good day as a team today. So be it."
Tampa Bay had something cooking in the second inning with two on and none out, but Sabathia -- who was on the mound for triple plays in 2010 and 2013 -- was about to see yet another.
Sean Rodriguez chopped a hard grounder to Solarte at third base, who raced to the bag to force out Evan Longoria. Solarte then threw to Roberts at second base to force out Wil Myers, and Roberts fired on to first base, where Scott Sizemore -- playing his first career game at the position -- scooped a one-hop throw in time to retire Rodriguez.
"I don't think you ever really expect a triple play, but that was pretty cool," Sizemore said. "Apparently, that was CC's third one in [four] years; first time I've been a part of one. Pretty cool."
The Rays never mounted much more of an attack against Sabathia, who was matching up with Price for the 10th time in their respective careers. Sabathia defeated Price for just the second time, improving to 2-6 with a 4.16 ERA in those 10 games.
"David's not an easy guy to beat," Roberts said. "I don't think the Yankees are the only team that's ever struggled against him. To get off to a good start, swing the bats the way we did and watch CC throw the ball the way he did, everything's good."
In all, Sabathia limited Tampa Bay to two runs (one earned) and seven hits over a strong seven-inning outing, walking two and striking out six.
"It felt good; just working both sides of the plate," he said. "We got off to a big lead, these guys played great defense, so I was just trying to get them back in the dugout as quick as possible."
Logan Forsythe scored on a passed ball in the fourth inning and Rodriguez led off the seventh with a homer, his second of the season. Dellin Betances finished up with two innings of scoreless relief, walking two and striking out three.
"I've struggled here, especially against Price," Sabathia said. "For these guys to come out and swing the way they did, I wanted to put some shutdown innings together. I was able to do that and get the win."