NEW YORK (AP) — Didi Gregorius hit a pair of three-run homers and drove in a career-high eight RBIs, and the New York Yankees overcame five strikeouts by Giancarlo Stanton in his first game in pinstripes to beat the Tampa Bay Rays 11-4 on Tuesday in Aaron Boone’s chilly first home opener as manager.
Starting his fourth season as Derek Jeter’s successor as the Yankees shortstop, Gregorius had four hits and walked, setting a major league record for RBIs by a player in a home opener. He also set a Yankees record for RBIs by a shortstop.
He doubled and scored in the second, and his first homer put the Yankees ahead 4-1 in the third against Chris Archer. After New York’s bullpen wasted a three-run lead for the second straight game, Gregorius drove an 0-2 pitch from Austin Pruitt (1-1) into the second deck in the seventh. He blooped an opposite-field two-run single to left in the eighth.
When the Yankees agreed to acquire Stanton from Miami on Dec. 9, Gregorius tweeted : “Hey Skip am i still batting 4th ???”
That’s exactly where he was, following Aaron Judge and Stanton in the batting order.
Fans rewarded Gregorius with a curtain call — he said it was his first in New York — after his second career multihomer game, and his teammates pranked him at the start of the eighth by failing to follow him onto the field. Gregorius turned and stuck out his gloved arm, surprised, when he realized no one was behind him.
Stanton was booed in the eighth inning after the first five-strikeout game of his big league career.
New York improved to 3-2 under Boone, who took over when Joe Girardi was fired after a decade in charge. Tampa Bay has lost four straight since beating Boston in its opener.
A day after New York’s home opener was postponed because of 5 1/2 inches of snow, the game started slightly late at 4:19 p.m. in a light, steady rain and with a 40-degree temperature. The stands were half-full despite an announced crowd of 46,776, and the Yankees called off the pregame introductions that Boone had been looking forward to.
Tommy Kahnle (1-0) won despite allowing a tying, two-run double to pinch-hitter Denard Span on an 0-2 pitch with two outs in a three-run sixth. The Yankees regained the lead just before Gregorius’ homer when Tyler Austin scored from second as Brett Gardner sacrificed and third baseman Matt Duffy threw wildly past first.
New York won its last 11 home openers at old Yankee Stadium but is just 6-4 at the new ballpark.
Tampa Bay filled its order with eight right-handed batters against left-hander Jordan Montgomery. Starting his second big league season, the 25-year-old allowed one run and two hits in five innings.
Archer, pitching in short sleeves and using a turquoise-colored glove, made his second start for the Rays and struck out eight in five innings while allowing four runs and six hits.
Carlos Gomez robbed Wade of a home run with a leaping catch that ended the sixth.
New York acquired outfielder Trayce Thompson off waivers from the Los Angeles Dodgers and made room for him by transferring right-hander Ben Heller to the 60-day DL.
This was Yankee Stadium’s first game since the installation of expanded netting that extends five sections past the dugout down each foul line, a move made after several fans were hurt by foul balls last year.
Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara, currently at the Metropolitan Opera in Mozart’s “Cosi fan tutte,” sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” and ended in a thrilling B-flat.
Yankees: OF Jacoby Ellsbury hurt a hip in his comeback from an oblique injury, a setback that means OF Aaron Hicks (strained ribcage) is likely to return from the disabled list first. Hicks is eligible to be activated April 9.
RHP Luis Severino (1-0) starts Wednesday’s series finale for the Yankees and LHP Blake Snell (0-0) for the Rays. Severino will pitch with five days’ rest after allowing one hit in 5 2/3 scoreless innings during the opening win at Toronto. Snell pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings in Friday’s loss to Boston.
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