NEW YORK (AP) — Giancarlo Stanton turned boos to cheers with his first Yankee Stadium home run in pinstripes, an emphatic go-ahead drive in the first inning Wednesday that led New York over the Tampa Bay Rays 7-2 to complete a two-game sweep.
Stanton turned on a high slider from Blake Snell (0-1), driving the ball 458 feet to left field at 117.9 mph for a two-run homer with the hardest-hit ball in the major leagues so for this young season.
Acquired from Miami in December, the major league home run champion was booed a day earlier when he struck out a career-worst five times in the Yankees’ home opener.
Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez also hit two-run homers as the Bronx Bombers lived up to their nickname. Judge connected off reliever Matt Andriese, the pitcher who gave up a home run to Judge in the slugger’s first big league at-bat in August 2016. Sanchez’s drive ended an 0-for-17 slide.
Luis Severino (2-0) allowed two runs and five hits with seven strikeouts in 7 1/3 innings, the longest outing by a New York starter this year. The Yankees improved to 4-2 under new manager Aaron Boone and won their 11th straight home series against the Rays.
Tampa Bay has lost five straight games since beating Boston in its opener and is off to its worst start since 2011.
Stanton (59), Judge (52) and Sanchez (33) combined for 144 home runs last season. Their bats were quiet Tuesday, when Didi Gregorius had eight RBIs in New York’s 11-4 win.
It was considerably warmer than a day earlier, but the game’s start was delayed 1 hour, 32 minutes by rain. Sun finally broke out in the middle innings.
C.J. Cron put the Rays ahead in the first when he lined an RBI double to left that got past Stanton, who didn’t cover much ground. Second baseman Ronald Torreyes saved a run with an inning-ending over-the-shoulder grab of Wilson Ramos’ pop into short right.
Stanton admitted he was awful Tuesday but put that behind. Brett Gardner reached on a single leading off the bottom of the first, and Stanton put New York ahead with his first home run since he hit a pair in Thursday’s opening win at Toronto. His only previous home run in the Bronx was for the Marlins against CC Sabathia on June 18, 2015.
When he got to the dugout, he exchanged laughs and smiles with Judge. Stanton also struck out three times, and with eight strikeouts in nine at-bats he raised his total to 12 in six games.
Sanchez doubled the lead in the third when he homered on a high changeup, Torreyes greeted Andriese with an RBI single in the fourth and Judge boosted the lead to 7-1 with his first home run of the season.
Snell needed 77 pitches to get through three innings and was chased after throwing 90 to get 10 outs. He allowed five runs and four hits.
Kevin Kiermaier singled and struck out three times, leaving him 2 for 23 with 10 strikeouts.
New York obtained INF/OF Cody Asche from Kansas City for a player to be named or cash and assigned him to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Yankees: OF Aaron Hicks (strained ribcage) is hitting and thinks he could be activated from the DL on Monday, the first day he is eligible.
Rays: Cash will use a reliever to start at Boston on Thursday and Sunday, and will give Chris Archer and Snell an extra day of rest before next week’s series at the Chicago White Sox.
Yankees: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (1-0) starts Thursday’s series opener against Baltimore, which has lost five straight, against RHP Andrew Cashner (0-1).
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