This time, the Tampa Bay Rays ran into the good Michael Pineda.
In their first road game of the year, Pineda was a stop sign. He flirted with a perfect game, sitting down the Rays’ first 20 batters en route to a two-hitter in an 8-1 win by the New York Yankees. He struck out 11.
You can hardly blame the Rays if they failed to recognize Pineda as the inconsistent pitcher who lasted only eight batters against Tampa Bay earlier in the season in a 4-1 Rays’ win.
This time, the Rays’ managed only a two-out double by Evan Longoria in the seventh and a solo home run by Logan Morrison in the eighth.
For the Yankees, Aaron Judge, Chase Headley and Starlin Castro all homered in the win. The Yankees broke a 3-1 game open with a five-run eighth.
Pineda has always been hard to figure out. He was 6-12 last year with a 4.82 ERA, but he led the Yankees in strikeouts.
“He had really good fastball command,” Rays’ manager Kevin Cash said. “He could place his slider where he needed to, and he mixed in a change-up a lot more than we saw in his first meeting. We’ve always respected how he comes out and competes. He can make some really good hitters look bad.”
For the Rays, it was that way as they visited the Yankees, who won their 16th home opener in their last 20 games.
The teams are off today, then play again on Wednesday.