ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Rays keep finding ways to frustrate the New York Yankees.
Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena homered off Domingo Germán, helping the Rays extend their mastery over their AL East rivals with a 4-0 victory on Saturday.
The Rays have won 10 of 12 regular-season games between the teams since the start of 2020. Tampa Bay also eliminated the Yankees from last year’s playoffs in a five-game series that went the distance.
Six Tampa Bay pitchers combined to limit the Yankees to five hits, with an injury-riddled bullpen delivering a strong performance after starter Chris Archer departed with a forearm injury that landed him on the 10-day injured list.
“Any time you shut out a team in major league baseball, it’s saying something,” manager Kevin Cash said. “When you do it in that fashion against that lineup, it’s really saying something.”
Meadows got things rolling for the Rays with a solo homer in the first inning, his third of the season. He had three hits in Tampa Bay’s 10-5 win over New York the previous day and has homered three times in eight career at-bats against Germán (0-2).
Arozarena, a rookie who keyed the Rays’ run to the World Series with a breakout postseason, hit a 420-foot solo shot in the third inning for a 4-0 lead. The ALCS MVP hit .377 with 10 homers and 14 RBIs in 20 postseason games last fall.
Andrew Kittredge (2-0) worked 1 2/3 innings to get the win, replacing Archer when the starter exited with right lateral forearm tightness after allowing three hits and striking out four in 2 1/3 innings.
Archer departed after yielding a one-out double to DJ LeMahieu with the Rays leading 3-0 in the third inning.
The two-time All-Star, making his first start at Tropicana Field since Tampa Bay traded him to Pittsburgh in July 2018, signed with the Rays as a free agent in February.
The right-hander missed the entire 2020 pandemic-shortened season after undergoing surgery to relieve symptoms of neurorgenic thoracic outlet syndrome.
Yankees slugger Aaron Judge returned to the lineup after missing two games due to soreness in his left side. He went 1 for 4 with two strikeouts. His fifth-inning single was New York’s final hit of the game.
“We just couldn’t muster anything with the opportunities we had. … Collectively, we have to be better as a group,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
Boone was asked if he thought the Yankees are better than the Rays, and if so, why.
The manager said it’s a long season.
“We’ll see,” Boone began, later adding: “They’re one of the teams we have to go through” to accomplish New York’s ultimate goal of winning a championship.
Germán allowed four runs and eight hits in four innings, walking one and striking out five. After looking sharp in spring training, the right-hander has yielded four homers in seven innings over two starts to this season.
He missed all of 2020 while serving the remainder of an 81-game suspension for violating Major League Baseball’s domestic violence policy in 2019. He rejected the notion that there’s some lingering rustiness due to not pitching last year.
“I feel really good … but that’s how it goes,” Germán said through a translator. “Hitters make adjustments (in the regular season) and pitchers have to make adjustments. It’s up to me to make the right adjustments.”
Yankees: 3B Gio Urshela was back in the lineup after sitting out the series opener due to side effects from a COVID vaccination shot taken Wednesday. “He was a little under the weather along with a couple other guys on our off day,” Boone said. “Everyone is good to go today. Everyone other than Gio was good to go yesterday.”
Rays: OF Manuel Margot (sore groin/quad) remained out of the lineup, but was available to pinch hit. Barring a setback, he’s expected to play Sunday.
Lefty Jordan Montgomery (1-0, 0.00 ERA) starts the finale of the weekend series for the Yankees. He’s 1-2 with a 5.14 ERA in six career starts against Tampa Bay. Rookie Brent Honeywell will make his major league debut for the Rays as an opener, with right-hander Michael Wacha following him. With Archer going on the IL, Honeywell was recalled after Saturday’s game.