The Tampa Bay Rays bounced back from a one-run loss on Saturday by lighting up Yankees pitching in the Grapefruit League home opener on Sunday, 9-7. Yoshi Tsutsugo collected his first big-league hit and a walk, while Randy Arozarena drove in the deciding runs in the eighth inning.
Yoshi, who played left field and hit fifth, went 1-for-1 with a walk and a sharply hit single to center in his first at-bat of the day.
In his second at-bat, Tsutsugo laid off a couple of tough pitches from Nick Nelson and ultimately drew a walk.
I think there’s a difference in the strike zone in the two countries, and also I was seeing different velocity here. This is the first game and I wanted to see it with my own eyes.— Yoshi Tsutsugo, through a translator
He also showed well in the field, accurately hitting the cutoff man on multiple occasions while displaying solid communication with Gold Glove centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier on a Thairo Estrada fly ball hit to left-center field.
All you hear about is how he can hit and handle the bat, but he looks very comfortable out there in the outfield. I think he’s going to surprise a lot of people with what he can do on that side of the ball.— Kevin Kiermaier
Tsutsugo will serve as the team’s designated hitter on Monday against the Red Sox, at Charlotte Sports Park. He is scheduled to hit fifth.
For the second consecutive game, Arozarena hit an extra-base hit in addition to showing off his skills on the basepaths. Arozarena went 1-for-1 with a go-ahead two-run triple in the eighth inning and two walks.
We think really highly of him. I know when we acquired him in the deal (with the Cardinals), he was a big part of that deal. We were excited about him, but any time you’re having success and finding the barrel like he has the last two days, it’s good.— Kevin Cash
Later in the inning, Arozarena scored when Yankees catcher Wynston Sawyer overthrew the pitcher on the mound.
He seems like a very heads-up baseball player. Whether it’s outfield, at the plate, whatever it is.— Kevin Cash
On the mound, Ryan Yarbrough got the start and tossed a scoreless first inning on 21 pitches (14 strikes, 67% strike rate). The left-hander struck out one.
For the first outing of the year, I felt really good. Everything was moving the way I wanted to and after the first couple of batters, I got ahead of the other two — it’s a matter of finishing guys off instead of just barely missing pitches. For the first outing of the year, I’ll take that every time.— Ryan Yarbrough
Yarbrough didn’t mention any particular pitches that he is working on, although he did note that he will be progressively working on how to use certain pitches in certain scenarios throughout the season.
Andrew Kittredge was really impressive in his inning of work, fanning the side, while Diego Castillo punched out two and was charged with an unearned run in his frame.
The New What Next
Yonny Chirinos will get his first start of the spring on Monday against the Red Sox. Relievers Oliver Drake and Nick Anderson are also scheduled to pitch for Tampa Bay.
Rays 2/24/20 Starting Lineup
- Austin Meadows LF
- Yandy Díaz 3B
- Ji-Man Choi 1B
- Hunter Renfroe RF
- Yoshi Tsutsugo DH
- Willy Adames SS
- Kevin Kiermaier CF
- Chris Herrmann C
- Joey Wendle 2B
- Yonny Chirinos RHP
— José Alvarado threw live batting practice on Sunday in Port Charlotte. The southpaw tossed around 20 pitches during his session and he’s tentatively slated to pitch in his first Spring Training game on Wednesday against the Twins, at Charlotte Sports Park.