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Rays 9, Yankees 1: Rich Hill Proving Age Ain’t Nothing But a Number

Extra-base hits outweigh strikeouts as Rays avoid getting swept

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Rays are looking to avoid getting swept by the New York Yankees at home for the first time since 2015 after dropping back-to-back games. More importantly, the Rays are trying to prevent falling below .500 as they continue to fight through injuries to remain in within three games of the division leading Boston Red Sox as we approach the first quarter pole of the season.

The Rays are turning to Rich Hill (1-1, 5.17 ERA) for the start against Jameson Taillon (1-2, 5.02 ERA). Hill is the oldest active player in the majors following Albert Pujols getting designated for assignment by the Los Angeles Angels.

The Rays came out swinging in the bottom of the first. With two outs and two strikes Manuel Margot hit a single that would become the first of three consecutive hits for the Rays. A Brandon Lowe double and Yandy Diaz single completed the trifecta to give the Rays an early 2-0 lead after the first inning.

In the top of the second, Hill struck out Gary Sanchez and Mike Ford. Through two innings, he held the Yankees to only two baserunners with a Giancarlo Stanton single in the first and a Clint Frazier walk in the top of the second.

Taillon retired Kevan Smith, Brett Phillips, and Mike Brosseau with three strikeouts in the bottom of the second throwing 12 fastballs out of his 15 total pitches.

In the top of the third inning the Yankees only baserunners were courtesy of Hill as Brett Gardner walked and Aaron Judge was later hit by a curveball. Gio Urshela ultimately flied out to right field stranding the two baserunners.

Arozarena gets the leadoff walk in the bottom of the third. Three pitches later Austin Meadows hits a well-struck two-run homer to right field to extend the Rays lead to 4-0. In the first two games of this series, the Rays could only score one-run and already have multiple two-run innings through three.

Gary Sanchez got on base with a leadoff walk in the top of the fourth and would be the Yankees only baserunner in the fourth or fifth inning. Hill struck out the side in the fifth throwing three of his six sinkers from the game to mix it up for Yankees hitters.

Taillon got Arozarena to strike out swinging in the leadoff spot at the bottom of the fifth but gave up a double to Austin Meadows in the next at-bat. His night would end after walking Brandon Lowe two batters later. Michael King came in and closed out the half inning striking out Yandy Diaz on three pitches. Rays still lead 4-0

Aaron Judge crushed a Hill curveball (110mph EV, 14 degrees LA) for a leadoff double in the sixth inning. Coming into tonight’s game Hill has thrown his curveball at the highest rate in the majors, relying on it 41.2 percent of the time with an opponent batting average of .179. Two of those curves landed too far over the plate resulting in the Stanton single in the first and the Judge double.

Gary Sanchez later added a single to give the Yankees runners on the corners with two outs. Two pitches later Mike Ford grounded into a double play to keep the Yankees scoreless through six.

The Rays started the bottom of the sixth with runners on first and second following a Joey Wendle walk and Kevan Smith single. King would recover for the Yankees after getting Phillips and Brosseau to strike out.

Then came Randy Arozarena. After being patient and taking two cutters for balls, Randy took full advantage of a sinker that was was just over the plate enough to meet the barrel of his bat and head into the stands for a three-run homer. Rays lead 7-0 after six.

Rich Hill was replaced by Louis Head in the seventh inning after 6.2 phenomenal innings of baseball with 3 H, 3 BB, and 9 K on 104 pitches. He has extended his scoreless stream from 11 to 17.2 innings. Hill has also given the Rays at least six innings now in three of his last four starts. There is no gas shortage in his tank lately.

Justin Wilson replaced King to pitch for the Yankees in the bottom of the eighth and the odds remained outside their favor. Kevan Smith reached first on catcher interference to leadoff and was moved to second on a Phillips single. Phillips would get out at second on a Brosseau groundout bringing Arozarena back to the plate. Randy continued to exercise good plate discipline and was walked on four pitches.

Austin Meadows must not have wanted to walk. On a full count Meadows took what would have been ball four and hit his tenth double of the season and second of the game to score Smith and Brosseau to make it a 9-0 lead for the Rays. I don’t know where all these extra-base hits came from but they were right on time tonight.

Hunter Strickland came in to replace Louis Head in the ninth and gave up a single, double and a walk to load the bases with his first three batters. Clint Frazier grounded into a double play allowing Gio Urshela to score an essentially meaningless run. Miguel Andujar would fly out to left field to seal the Rays 9-1 victory over the Yankees.

The Rays somehow scored nine runs in a game where they had 16 strikeouts, left 16 runners on base and went 3-for-11 with runners in scoring position. It helps when the Yankees also leave 16 men on and go 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position.

A win is a win no matter how you get it and the Rays look to continue their winning ways against the other New York team as the Mets come to the Trop for a three-game series. Tyler Glasnow is expected to take the mound against David Peterson with first pitch at 7:10pm ET.