ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Chris Archer’s seven strong innings drew the headlines in the Tampa Bay Rays’ season-opening 7-3 win over the New York Yankees on Sunday.
An impressive showing at the plate from throughout Tampa Bay’s lineup was perhaps even more encouraging.
The Rays look to put together another productive game at the plate Tuesday night when they host the Yankees.
“Literally everyone contributed today, one way or another,” said outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who reached base four times and scored twice Sunday. “If we can have that contribution one through nine, we are going to be a tough team to beat. We are a happy clubhouse right now.”
Eight of the nine starters had at least one hit in a 13-hit barrage, with eight coming off Yankees ace Masahiro Tanaka. Consider the combined hitting of the Rays’ top six hitters in the batting order — they went 10-for-25 — and the combined hitting of the Yankees’ top five, who went 1-for-20 in a frustrating debut.
A year ago, Rays first baseman Logan Morrison had to wait 28 games until May 16 to get his first RBI of the season. On Sunday, he got two in his first at-bat of the season, then added a solo home run in the third inning in a promising season debut.
“It feels good, but it’s one game. We’ve got 161 more,” Morrison said. “If every game was like this, then I think I’d be a Hall of Famer and a really rich man.”
Speaking of really rich men, the Yankees will look to bounce back Tuesday behind left-hander CC Sabathia, who is in the last year of his contract after going 9-12 season in 2016. Sabathia went 1-0 in three starts against the Rays last season, but did so with a 5.52 ERA.
The Rays counter with right-hander Jake Odorizzi, who went 10-6 last season with a 3.69 ERA, including a 7-1 mark after the All-Star break and a 2.71 ERA.
Just as Sabathia is 14-14 all-time against the Rays, Odorizzi is 5-5 in his career against the Yankees, though he was a solid 2-1 with a 2.29 ERA against New York last season.
While the Rays were hitting from top to bottom in Sunday’s opener, the Yankees weren’t as fortunate, with six of their nine hits coming from Starlin Castro and Chase Headley.
“I thought we did a good job,” Headley said. “We fought, we gave ourselves a couple chances to get right back in there. We had the right guys at the plate a couple of times.”
The Rays should have a different look against lefties this season.
The Sunday opener marked the debuts of outfielder Mallex Smith and catcher Derek Norris, and Tuesday’s game against Sabathia should bring the first action for first baseman Rickie Weeks, outfielder Peter Bourjos and rookie Daniel Robertson.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi saw positives in how his team didn’t stop fighting down 7-2 after three innings, loading the bases in the seventh and the ninth, even if New York only came away with one run. They Yankees will get another shot to make up for it Tuesday as the series resumes.
“We felt pretty good about our chances at scoring a bunch of runs,” Girardi said of the ninth Sunday. “We had a couple of times where we had some chances to score some runs and we didn’t capitalize today. (The Rays) did, and that was the difference.”