ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Rougned Odor is looking ahead, not to the past.
The newest addition to the New York Yankees wants to help his new team be successful. It didn’t take him long to contribute to a win.
“It was great, feels really good,” the infielder said after his first hit as a Yankee snapped a 10th-inning tie and New York rallied Sunday to avoid a weekend sweep with an 8-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Rays.
The 27-year-old second baseman was in the lineup for the first time after being acquired from Texas in a trade last week. He said he doesn’t feel pressure to prove he can play after being designated for assignment by the Rangers.
“I just try to be myself, just try to play the game the way I play the game all the time, trying to bring that energy I have to the team,” said Odor, his face cleanly shaven after sporting a scruffy beard for years in Texas. “That’s what I did today, and it really feels good.”
Gio Urshela homered and drove in three runs for New York, which won for only the third time in its past 13 regular season meetings with the Rays. Tampa Bay also ousted their AL East rivals from the playoffs on the way to winning the AL pennant last season.
“You’ve got to be able to turn the page in this game. You know you’re going to take your lumps every now and then, even when you’re a really good ball club,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said.
“A tough couple of first games here,” Boone added. “I thought it was a good job of turning the page and coming out and playing some winning baseball.”
Urshela hit a two-run homer in the third inning. His career-tying high fourth hit of the day, a two-out single in the 10th off Collin McHugh (0-1), helped the Yankees put away the AL champions, who were on the verge of completing a three-game sweep before giving up a tying run in the eighth.
Odor was 0 for 4 before singling to center on a 3-2 pitch to break a 4-4 tie.
Last season, he was 6 for 81 (.074) with two strikes — the lowest average in the majors among players with 75 or more at-bats.
“I was just trying to do my best, put the ball in play to drive that run in,” Odor said. “He gave me a good pitch to hit and I made a pretty good contact.”
Gary Sánchez followed with an RBI single before Urshela finished off the Rays, who allowed the fourth run of the inning to score on an error.
Aroldis Chapman (1-0) pitched a scoreless ninth, and Albert Abreu got the final three outs.
Mike Zunino and Randy Arozarena hit two-run homers and rookie right-hander Brent Honeywell Jr. sparkled in his major league debut by pitching two scoreless innings as an opener for the Rays, who clung to a 4-3 lead until Gleyber Torres tied it with an eighth-inning single off Ryan Thompson.
Zunino and Arozarena both homered off starter Jordan Montgomery, who riled the Tampa Bay bench early in the game by hitting Rays designated hitter Austin Meadows with pitches twice.
Home plate umpire Marty Foster issued a warning to both benches after Meadows was struck in the back in the first inning. The umpire crew huddled again when a high, inside pitch appeared to glance off Meadows’ left forearm, however Montgomery wasn’t ejected.
The Rays noted afterward that New York plunked batters in each game of the three-game series at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay hit two Yankees on Sunday, both on low pitches that skipped in the dirt, including one that umpires reviewed video before awarding Aaron Hicks first base in the 10th.
Rays manager Kevin Cash said he didn’t believe there was intent to hit Meadows, however he’s still unhappy with how Major League Baseball handled tense dustups between the division rivals last season and says no player appreciates being plunked, whether it’s intentional or not.
“It’s unfortunate this continues to roll over,” Cash said.
Honeywell, once Tampa Bay’s best pitching prospect, had not pitched in a regular season or postseason game since the Triple-A National Championship Game in September 2017. Since then, he’s undergone surgical procedures on his right elbow four times, beginning with Tommy John surgery in February 2018.
The 26-year-old with a backward-breaking screwball breezed through a nine-pitch first inning, then struck out Giancarlo Stanton and Torres before getting Odor to pop to second base to end a 21-pitch outing.
Michael Wacha inherited a 2-0 lead from Honeywell but didn’t keep it long. The right-hander yielded a two-run homer to Urshela while allowing the first five batters he faced to reach, and the Yankees went ahead 3-2 when Hicks grounded into a double play with the bases loaded.
Arozarena’s second homer in two days gave the Rays a 4-3 edge that Wacha, who allowed three runs and three hits over four innings, turned over to the bullpen.
The Yankees tied in the in the eighth when Thompson walked Stanton and Aaron Judge before giving up a RBI single to Torres.
Yankees: Infielder Luke Voit (left knee surgery) is rehabbing in New York and making progress, manager Aaron Boone said. He’s due to see a doctor Monday and not expected to start any baseball activities for another week.
Rays: Outfielder Manuel Margot (groin/quad) returned to the lineup after missing two games and went 1 for 4.
Yankees: Right-hander Gerrit Cole (1-0, 1.46 ERA) will start the opener of a three-game series against the Toronto Blue Jays in nearby Dunedin, Florida, on an extra day’s rest Monday. The Blue Jays are playing home games at their spring training site because of coronavirus pandemic restrictions in Canada.
Rays: Begin a four-game series against the Texas Rangers, with right-hander Tyler Glasnow (0-0, 0.75) facing right-hander Dane Dunning (1-0, 1.80) on Monday .
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