The Game: Sean Rodriguez remained hot at the plate, finishing a single shy of the cycle in Tampa Bay’s 12-7 win over the New York Yankees on Friday at Steinbrenner Field. Rodriguez worked backwards through the cycle by picking up a home run, triple and then a double before being pulled from the game for scheduled substitutions.
The Rays took the lead early in the first inning. Sean Rodriguez hit his third home run of the spring with a shot over the center field wall to put Tampa Bay ahead 1-0.
The Rays struck again in the third inning. Chris Richard led off the inning with a walk and then scored a batter later when Jason Bartlett delivered a triple to center. The next batter Rodriguez hit a triple in nearly the same spot to score Bartlett. Evan Longoria drove home Rodriguez to increase the Tampa Bay lead to 4-0.
Tampa Bay added two more runs in the fourth inning. Dioner Navarro scored first on a wild pitch. Then Bartlett hit an RBI single to score Justin Ruggiano and extend the lead to 7-0.
New York did not reach the scoreboard until the bottom of the fifth inning. Robinson Cano doubled to left to lead off the inning and later advanced to third on a throwing error. Francisco Cervelli followed with an RBI single to score Cano and post the first Yankee run on the scoreboard. The Rays matched the run in the seventh with Elliot Johnson scoring on an error to bring the score to 8-1.
The Yankees mounted a huge comeback in the bottom of the seventh inning, striking for six runs and pulling to within a run of the lead. Mike Ekstrom struggled in the inning, surrendered two walks and two wild pitched to aid the Yankees.
But the Rays rallied back in the eighth inning. Ryan Shealy and JJ Furmaniak got the rally started with back to back walks. Reid Brignac brought them both home with a two run triple to right. Brignac later scored on an RBI single by Johnson to give the Rays an 11-7 lead.
Brignac anchored another score drive in the ninth inning. Angel Chavez leads of the inning with a walk and then later stole second base. Dan Johnson then singled to second, moving Chavez to third. Shealy followed with a walk to load the bases. Brignac followed with an RBI single to score Chavez and give the Rays the 12-7 margin of victory.
David Price and Jeremy Hellickson combined to pitch 3 innings of shut-out baseball with Price earning the win and both collecting two strikeouts a piece. Carlos Hernandez followed with 2 innings and allowing 1 run on 2 hits with a strikeout. Jeff Bennett relieved with a no hit inning allowing on a walk. Mike Ekstrom struggled, allowing 5 runs on 3 hits with 2 walks in only 1/3 of an inning. RJ Swindle pitched 1 1/3 innings allowing a run on 1 hit with 2 strikeouts. Heath Rollins closed out the final 1 1/3 innings allowing no runs, no hits and picked up a strikeout.
RP Top Prospect Watch:
Reid Brignac: 2 for 3 with 3 RBI’s and a runs scored, now hitting .571 on the spring.
Jeremy Hellickson: no runs on 1 hit with 2 strikeouts in 1 1/3 innings, picking up a hold.
John Jaso: 0 for 2.
A Look Ahead: The Rays (2-1) return to Charlotte Sports Park to take on a split squad from the Boston Red Sox (2-1). Andy Sonnanstine will start with Wade Davis, Randy Choate, Jake McGee, Dale Thayer and Joe Bateman available to pitch.