ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) The New York Yankees are ready for another celebration.
The World Series champions wrapped up a successful season-opening road trip Sunday before heading back to the Bronx for a special ceremony that will precede the team’s home opener on Tuesday.
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“We’re ready to get back,” outfielder Nick Swisher said. “We get our rings and I’m juiced about that.”
The Yankees are also feeling good about going 4-2 against AL East rivals Boston and Tampa Bay in the first week of the season.
A.J. Burnett pitched seven strong innings and Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez drove in two runs apiece to pace Sunday’s 7-3 win over the Rays.
“Playing a team like Boston to open up the season, and not only that, come and play the Rays right after that, these are two tough series. I think it just shows where our focus is,” Swisher said. “We feel good. We feel we have a great team. We’re getting great pitching.”
CC Sabathia took a no-hit bid into the eighth inning of Saturday’s 10-0 rout. Burnett gave up singles to Jason Bartlett and Carl Crawford to start Sunday’s game, then limited Tampa Bay to four hits over the next six innings.
Joba Chamberlain pitched the eighth, yielding an RBI triple to Crawford. Mariano Rivera worked a scoreless ninth in a non-save situation as the Yankees won their second straight game after dropping the opener of the weekend series at Tropicana Field.
“This is a tough trip to start out,” manager Joe Girardi said. “Two teams in your division that are very good and you’re able to win both series. It’s a very good trip for us.”
Posada’s two-run homer off Randy Choate (0-1) gave the Yankees a 3-2 lead in the sixth. Rodriguez doubled off the wall in left field to drive in two to make it 6-2 in seventh, and Nick Swisher added a solo homer in the eighth off Andy Sonnanstine.
Burnett, who walked three and struck out one, worked out of a jam in the sixth after the Rays loaded the bases, helped by Evan Longoria’s infield pop single that struck a speaker attached to one of the catwalks in the domed stadium before falling to the field.
Girardi argued unsuccessfully that the ball struck the speaker in foul territory, making it a dead ball. Burnett walked the next batter, Carlos Pena, to fill the bases before escaping when B.J. Upton popped to first to end the inning.
“The interesting thing is, when Longoria hits that ball you think you’re out of the inning,” Girardi said.
“Then you’ve got to turn it back on again. … They have some interesting ground rules here. … It’s something you have to deal with, both teams have to deal with. I’m glad it didn’t hurt us.”
Burnett improved to 12-4 lifetime against the Rays, including 6-2 in 11 starts at Tropicana Field. He was 4-0 with a 1.97 ERA in five starts against Tampa Bay last season.
The Rays struck quickly against the Yankees starter, building a 2-0 lead.
Bartlett singled leading off the first, stole second and scored on Crawford’s single. Carlos Pena later grounded into a force play to drive home Crawford.
“You give up two early, but you’ve still this lineup behind you, so you do your best to keep to try and keep them in it,” Burnett said. “It feels good to have shutdown innings and keep these guys in it because it’s just a matter of time before they explode.”
Curtis Granderson’s second-inning RBI double began New York’s comeback against Rays starter James Shields.
Shields worked six innings in Tampa Bay’s opening-day win over Baltimore, but was not involved in the decision. He led 2-1 in the sixth Sunday when he gave up a one-out double to Robinson Cano and was replaced by Choate.
Posada promptly greeted the reliever with his second homer of the season.
“I was a little off today,” said Shields, who yielded four hits, walked three and struck out five in 5 1-3 innings. “But to be able to hold the Yankees to one run and not havehave your stuff is not too bad. I think it’s a game to learn on.”
It was an awful series for Choate, who entered Saturday’s game in the eighth and allowed four runs and five hits in two-thirds of an inning. The lefty gave up hits to seven of nine batters he faced over the two days.
Tampa Bay went 3-3 on its season-opening homestand, with its starting pitchers compiling a 3.41 ERA. In contrast, the bullpen posted a 7.78 ERA during the homestand and allowed the Yankees pull awaty in the innings Saturday and Sunday.
“I really can’t explain the last two days,” Choate said. “Physically, I’m fine. But I’m a sinker ball pitcher, and the ball wasn’t sinking.”
NOTES: Granderson was 1 for 18 in his career against Shields before his RBI double. … Rays RHP Jeff Niemann remains on course to make his scheduled start Tuesday night in Baltimore. He left his first start, also against Baltimore, after being hit in the right shoulder by a line drive off the bat of Miguel Tejada. Niemann threw a bullpen session Sunday, and manager Joe Maddon said he appeared to be fine. … A day after pulling out of an 0-for-17 skid with three hits, Yankees slugger Mark Teixeira had an 0-for-4 afternoon with three strikeouts. Not a great way to celebrate his 30th birthday.