ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Pitch by pitch, Chris Archer set the tone for what he and the Tampa Bay Rays hope will be a bounce-back year.
Not such a good start for Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees.
Archer pitched seven solid innings, and the Rays roughed up Tanaka on the way to beating New York 7-3 in the first game of the new Major League Baseball season Sunday.
“We didn’t play perfect, but we played well enough to win,” Archer said. “We scored a lot of runs and made some nice defensive plays. It’s all about winning, and we did that.”
And what the Rays didn’t do a lot of last season, when they sank to the bottom of the AL East with their worst finish (68-94) since 2007.
New York lost on opening day for the sixth consecutive year, with Tanaka matching the shortest start ever by a Yankees pitcher in an opener.
“It happens. He’s human,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “He just didn’t command anything. … He usually self corrects real well. But today, he tried a few things and it just didn’t work.”
Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered and drove in three runs apiece before a sellout crowd of 31,042 at Tropicana Field. Tanaka, who had baseball’s lowest ERA in spring training, was tagged for a career-worst seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.
A first-time All-Star in 2015 who lost an AL-leading 19 times last season, Archer (1-0) limited New York to two runs and seven hits. He narrowly escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to turn a five-run lead over to a revamped bullpen.
Aaron Judge had a RBI double, while Starlin Castro and Chase Headley each had three hits for the Yankees.
Tanaka (0-1) made his third consecutive opening day start for the Yankees, and had been 6-0 with a 2.82 ERA in eight career starts against Tampa Bay. He gave up eight hits and two walks.
Longoria connected for his fourth homer on opening day. Morrison, who didn’t drive in a run until May 17 last season, added a solo drive in the third.
“Obviously, you just have to accept it. I can’t take it back,” Tanaka said through a translator. “So, the main thing is, I really need to move forward from today. Make the necessary adjustments.”
Tanaka, who tied Hideo Nomo for the most opening day starts by a Japanese-born pitcher, had a seven-game winning streak stopped. He went 7-0 with a 2.28 ERA over his final nine starts of last season. … Tanaka had won all three of his previous career starts at Tropicana Field, limiting the Rays to four earned runs in 20 innings for a 1.80 ERA. He led the AL with a 2.36 road ERA in 2016, trailing only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (2.29) for the major league lead.
It was the second-shortest start of Tanka’s career. He tied the Yankees shortest on opening day, joining Ron Guidry (1983) and Mel Stottlemyre (1973).
Dickerson, who hit 24 home runs last year, was 1 for 5 in his debut as Tampa Bay’s leadoff hitter against right-handed pitching. Cash is considering moving right-handed batting Steven Souza Jr. to the top of the order against left-handers, beginning Tuesday against CC Sabathia.
Yankees: SS Didi Gregorius (right shoulder strain) expects to start limited baseball activities the middle of this week. He is out until some time in May. … INF-OF Tyler Austin (broken left ankle) was placed on the 60-day disabled list.
Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia, 3-7 in 14 starts at Tropicana Field since joining New York in 2009, is Tuesday night’s scheduled starter. He’s 2-0 against the Rays in three road starts over the last two seasons.