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Rays Take Series Opener From Yankees In Wild Fashion

photo: Tampa Bay Rays/Instagram

Randy Arozarena and Yandy Diaz each hit their ninth home run of the season Friday night at Tropicana Field, but it was Wander Franco’s RBI double in the bottom of the seventh that would break a 4-4 tie and give the Tampa Bay Rays a 5-4 win over the New York Yankees.

With the Rays holding “Randy Land” in left field for its official debut, Arozarena treated all the fans in the section to a free drink thanks to his solo homer in the bottom of the first inning off Yankees starter Jhony Brito.

”We kind of expect Randy to step up in big moments, and he did, and he delivered” reliever Colin Poche said after the game.  “To hit a home run in his first at-bat with the Randy Land thing going on is pretty on brand for him.”

Tampa Bay would go up 2-0 in the second thanks to a sacrifice fly by Jose Siri, and Diaz’s solo shot in the third pushed the lead to 3-0 before Harold Ramirez’s fielder’s choice would bring in Franco for a 4-0 advantage later in the inning.

Arozarena would be hit on the elbow by Brito on the first pitch of his at-bat in that inning, and Albert Abreu would also hit Arozarena in the ribs on his first offering in the fifth.  The umpires would then issue warnings and Rays manager Kevin Cash would be ejected for arguing about the warnings.

”He said that half the crew did not feel that it was intentional,” Cash said of umpire Lance Barksdale’s decision to not warn both sides until the second time Arozarena was hit.  “And I said I didn’t give a shit what half the crew said.”

But it would be the Yankees who looked motivated after the ejection, as starter Yonny Chirinos gave up a RBI double to Gleyber Torres in the sixth and later in the inning, reliever Garrett Cleavinger saw Harrison Badger hit a game-tying three run homer off him to knot the game back up.

Tampa Bay was able to get out of that inning with the game still tied, and in the bottom of the seventh, after a Siri walk and Diaz fielder’s choice, Franco laced a Jimmy Cordero pitch to left that former Ray Jake Bauers could not handle.  Diaz came around from first base to score, though the home plate umpire initially called him out and had to be overturned on replay.

Poche would work out of a jam in the eighth, striking out Isiah Kiner-Falefa to strand potential tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.  Jason Adam worked a scoreless ninth to earn his third save.

Drew Rasmussen (3-2, 3.66 ERA) can earn the Rays a series victory Saturday afternoon, taking on Domingo German (2-24.66 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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