NEW YORK (AP) — Jonathan Loaisiga pitched three-hit ball over five impressive innings to win his major league debut, and the New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays 5-0 on Friday night.
Didi Gregorius homered off ex-Yankee Nathan Eovaldi, and Gary Sanchez broke out of a long slump with a three-run double in the eighth. Giancarlo Stanton had a sacrifice fly for New York, which improved the best record in the majors to 45-20.
Jonathan Holder, David Robertson, Dellin Betances and Adam Warren each worked an inning to finish the four-hitter.
Loaisiga (1-0) was called up from Double-A Trenton to fill in for injured starter Masahiro Tanaka. The 23-year-old righty, who walked only four batters in 45 minor league innings this year, struggled a little with his command, issuing four walks while striking out six.
With two outs in the fourth, the Rays loaded the bases but Loaisiga — the 15th major leaguer from Nicaragua — regrouped and struck out Christian Arroyo behind the support of 45,112 roaring fans at Yankee Stadium.
Pitching against his former team, Eovaldi (1-2) allowed only two runs over the first seven innings until the Yankees chased him in the eighth. He was charged with five runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings during his first career outing against New York. He struck out five and walked one.
It was Eovaldi’s fourth outing since coming back from a second Tommy John surgery. The right-hander pitched for the Yankees from 2015-16, going 14-3 in 2015.
With one out in the eighth, Eovaldi gave up consecutive singles to Aaron Judge and Gregorius before issuing an intentional walk to Stanton. Johnny Venters entered and struck out Greg Bird before Sanchez’s bases-loaded line drive to right field skipped past a diving Johnny Field to make it 5-0.