ST. PETERSBURG -- Carsten Sabathia took care of business on the mound, and the veteran lefty received long-ball support to lead the Yankees to a 5-0 win over the Rays Tuesday night at Tropicana Field.
Backed by home runs from Ronald Torreyes and Chase Headley, Sabathia held the Rays down on three hits and two walks over five innings to pick up his team's first victory of the year.
"You always want to get that first win of the season," Sabathia said. "This is a young team. It's a talented team. It's up to us to play well."
"[Sabathia] has that ability to keep the ball off the barrel, and that's what he did," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "I don't think it was any fault of the hitters. I think you have to credit CC for his performance."
Torreyes hit a two-run homer on the first pitch he saw from Rays starter Jake Odorizzi with no outs in the third. According to Statcast™, Torreyes' "barreled" blast traveled 402 feet and had an exit velocity of 99.6 mph with a 29-degree launch angle. Matthew Holliday added a roof-aided RBI double to stake the Yankees to a 3-0 lead.
"We don't get to see Toe hit many home runs," said Yankees catcher Gary Sanchez. "Whenever he hits one like that, everybody is super happy; not just me but the whole team."
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Odorizzi got "barreled" again with one out in the sixth, as Headley rode a 1-0 offering over the wall in center. The blast traveled 420 feet and had an exit velocity of 102.9 mph with a 26-degree launch angle, putting the Yankees up 4-0. Headley added a run-scoring single in the eighth.
The Rays loaded the bases with one out in the eighth, but Dellin Betances struck out Rickie Weeks Jr. and got Logan Morrison to roll over to first, ending the threat.
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MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
'Soft' opening for CC: Sabathia continued to build upon his resurgent 2016 season, in which he induced an average exit velocity of 85.2 mph -- the second-lowest among pitchers with at least 250 balls in play. The Rays had difficulty stringing hits together against the big lefty, who threw 85 pitches before yielding to the bullpen. It is vital for Sabathia to keep the ball down, and he did so by coaxing eight groundouts. The Yankees have won each of Sabathia's last six starts against the Rays.
"The velocity was high for his first outing, I thought," manager Joe Girardi said. "I thought his cutter was as good as it's been. He threw some good back-door sliders. He had good command and he gave us what we needed after losing the first game. He gave us a good five innings today and just shut them down, give [us] a chance to build a lead." More >
Trouble with the Trop: Even the Trop worked against Odorizzi in the third inning, when Holliday hit what appeared to be a routine fly ball to left field with a runner on second and two outs. Peter Bourjos camped under the fly, then lost the ball, which landed close to the wall. Normally, when an outfielder playing at Tropicana Field reacts the way Bourjos did, one of the stadium's infamous catwalks is the culprit. The Rays and the umpires both noted that the ball did not strike a catwalk, and the teflon roof has caused its share of balls to be lost.
"I lost it, as you could see from my reaction," Bourjos said. "The ball got up into the rafters, probably higher than any ball I've ever seen hit here. And once it got up past the first ring, I lost it. I honestly don't know if it hit the catwalk, or didn't hit the catwalk."
Whatever the cause, Holliday was credited with a double and an RBI. More >
"Anytime you debut, you probably get a little bit of a hall pass. If you have a great day, great. If not, it's totally understandable." -- Cash, on Daniel Robertson, who made his Major League debut Tuesday and went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts
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Tuesday night marked the 400th consecutive Rays game started by a pitcher under the age of 30, the longest current streak in the Major Leagues.
The Yankees successfully challenged a call at first base in the third inning, as Robertson was initially ruled safe on a ground ball to Torreyes at shortstop. A review of one minute and 39 seconds overturned the call, as Torreyes' throw was shown not to have pulled first baseman Greg Bird off the bag.
Yankees:Michael Pineda (6-12, 4.82 ERA in 2016) has the ball on Wednesday as the Yanks conclude their first series of the year at 7:10 p.m. ET. He will be looking to get off to a good start in what could be a big season for the right-hander, whose career has been marked by tantalizing stuff and frustrating inconsistency.
Rays:Alex Cobb (1-2, 8.59 ERA in 2016) starts the season healthy after spending much of the previous two seasons rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Though he returned late last season to make five starts for the Rays, he wasn't all the way back. After going 1-1 with a 4.67 ERA during Spring Training, the right-hander is not only healthy, but he's better ready to execute his pitches.
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