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Series Recap: Bronx broomsticks brush off Rays

I’ll leave it to others to rank where the New York Yankees 2017 home opener stands among the 114 before it but it was pretty sweet for the Bronx faithful. With new dining options around Yankee Stadium, the home cooking was mighty good for the men in pinstripes.

Mike’s On

He’s ready to go! Typically a team wants its ace on the hill Opening Day. From this standpoint, Michael Pineda was on point. Equipped with a fierce slider, Pineda was nearly perfect.

The big righty whiffed 11 and was perfect against the Tampa Bay Rays through 6.2 frames of work, retiring the first 20 batters faced. In total, Pineda registered his first victory of the campaign with 7.2 innings of two-hit scoreless ball. Pineda wielded his biting slide piece 36 times, producing 24 strikes, 19 swings and 11 K’s.

Too Many Homers

Never! Your Bronx Bombers were in full force and blasting the baseball.

Ahead 1-0 in the fourth inning, Aaron Judge slammed his second home run in as many days, taking Alex Cobb to left-center, doubling the Yankees advantage to 2-0.

During the seventh stanza, Chase Headley kept his hot hitting going, launching the first offering he saw from Cobb, into the seats in right-center for his second of the season, making it 3-0.

With the Yankees ahead 5-1 in the eighth, Starlin Castro knocked a two-run wall scraper into right for his first home run of the season, off Austin Pruitt, staking the Bronx Bombers to a 7-1 lead.

Welcome to the Show

After toiling nearly a decade in the Yankees minor-league system, Kyle Higashioka made his major-league debut. Recalled from Triple-A, Higashioka entered the game and caught the ninth inning.

Dressed to the Nines

The 8-1 Yankees victory meant 900 wins in the managerial career of Joe Girardi. If you’re scoring at home, it’s 822 victories with the Yankees and 78 wins with the then-Florida Marlins.

That’s Called a Winning Streak

It has happened before. Game 2 of the series saw the Yankees with their third consecutive contest, doubling up the Rays 8-4.

Monty Burns

Jordan Montgomery made a fairly representative major-league debut. The rookie southpaw whiffed the first batter he faced, Steven Souza Jr., and fanned seven Rays’ in total. While Montgomery yielded a two-run home run to Rickie Weeks Jr. in the first, he settled in, tossing 4.2 innings on the afternoon. Montgomery became the second Yankees left-handed rookie since 1913 to fan more than seven batters in his debut, only Al Leiter had more with eight.

Here Come the Judge

After the Yankees pulled within 3-2 in the fifth, they posted a four-run rally in the sixth. With runners on first and second, Aaron Judge nearly took the head off of Rays reliever Jumbo Diaz and tied the game at three.

Caught off Gard

The sixth wasn’t all sunshine and roses for the Yanks. Brett Gardner gave the Yankees the lead on a chopper back to the mound but would have to exit the contest following a violent collision with Weeks Jr. at first base.

Capping off the scoring in the seventh was Judge again with his third home run in as many games. Judge’s jolt off Erasmo Ramirez was a two-run drive.

In the ninth, “exactly like” Ivan Nova last season, Aroldis Chapman recorded the first Yankee save of the season.

Clean Sweep

Sealing the deal in Game 3, the Bronx Bombers busted out the broomsticks. A 3-2 victory over the Rays gave the Yankees a four-game win streak, their first sweep of the year and at 5-4 moved them over MLB .500 for the first time this season.

Next Man up

With Brett Gardner on the mend, Aaron Hicks was summoned into duty in left-field. Hicks, whose bat showed a lot of jump at Camden Yards, did not disappoint.

In the first frame, Hicks hitting from the left side launched a solo shot off Matt Andriese. Is it me or does the finish on his swing mirror Ken Griffey Jr.?

Luis Luis Luis, Luis-I

Hey, Luis, you’re my guy. Aside from a hiccup in the second and yielding a home run to Peter Bourjos in the fifth, Luis Severino was on point. Severino kept Rays hitters off balance, whiffing 11 through seven frames, scattering five hits, allowing two runs.

Severino’s victory was his first as a starting pitcher since September of 2015.

Hicks Carries the Sticks

Not wanting to disappoint the paying customers in left, “Hicksy” decided to go yard from the right. Hicks’ two-run tater in the seventh off Xavier Cedeno, gave the Bronx Bombers a 3-2 advantage. Hicks became the first Yankee to homer from each side of the plate since Mark Teixeira did so on July 31, 2015, at the Chicago White Sox. If your name is Aaron, this was your kind of series.

From there, Dellin Betances wiggled out of trouble with two strikeouts and a groundout in the eighth. Aroldis Chapman followed with two K’s of his own in the ninth, collecting his second save in as many games, preserving the victory and sweep.

On Deck

At 5-4 on the campaign, New York hosts the St. Louis Cardinals in a three-game series starting Friday evening. Coming off a 6-1 victory over the Washington Nationals at Washington, the Cards are 3-6.

Pitching probables include Michael Wacha vs. Masahiro Tanaka, Carlos Martinez vs. CC Sabathia, Adam Wainwright vs. Michael Pineda.

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