ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Tampa Bay Rays insist it didn’t matter who was on the other side of the field.
Yes, it felt good to unveil a couple of more title banners at Tropicana Field and beat the Yankees, 10-5, in their home opener Friday. However, the reigning A.L. champions said it was important to break out of an early-season offensive funk regardless of the opponent.
Rich Hill pitched six strong innings, Austin Meadows, Joey Wendle and Brandon Lowe led a hit parade against Corey Kluber and New York’s bullpen, and the Rays thumped the Yankees to end a four-game losing streak.
“There’s no denying it was different than what we saw the last two or three days,” Manager Kevin Cash said, looking back on being swept by Boston at Fenway Park earlier in the week.
Hill, a 41-year-old lefty who’s played 17 seasons with 10 teams, allowed four runs and four hits — all with two outs in the third inning — before retiring his final 10 batters.
Hill (1-0) struck out seven without issuing a walk, and Tampa Bay scored five early runs off Kluber (0-1) in his second start for the Yankees. Meadows had three of the Rays’ 13 hits, one of five Tampa Bay players with a multi-hit game.
Wendle and Lowe both doubled with the bases-loaded, combining to drive in five.
Aaron Hicks and D.J. LeMahieu homered for the Yankees, who have dropped nine of 11 regular season meetings against Tampa Bay.
“Going back years, we had fits going into Yankee Stadium and fits with them coming here,” Cash said.
With the teams standing along the first- and third-base lines for pregame introductions, the Yankees were forced to watch a video recap of Tampa Bay’s 2020 success, which included the Rays’ third A.L. East title, a victory over the Yankees in the A.L.D.S. and the franchise’s second pennant.
The salute was capped by the unveiling of two banners commemorating the latest division title and A.L. crown.
“It didn’t matter to anybody about who was on the other side of the field,” Lowe said, shrugging off a question about if it was any more satisfying to raise the banners with the Yankees in town. “That was our moment.”
The Rays roughed up Kluber, scoring two unearned runs in the second inning and chasing the Yankees starter with three runs to regain the lead after falling behind 4-2 in the third.
Wendle’s two-run double off reliever Nick Nelson drove in the final two runs charged to Kluber, who allowed five runs — three earned — and five hits in two and a third innings. On the way to building the lead to 9-4, Lowe drove in three with a fourth-inning double.
The Yankees played without slugger Aaron Judge, who sat out a second consecutive game with soreness in his left side. Gio Urshela was also out of the lineup after being placed on the Covid-19 injured list because of side effects from a vaccination.
Dodgers Get World Series Rings and a Win
LOS ANGELES — Justin Turner homered in the sixth inning, and the Los Angeles Dodgers celebrated their World Series ring ceremony day with a 1-0 victory over the Washington Nationals.
Walker Buehler pitched six strong innings as the Dodgers won a tidy pitchers’ duel in their home opener without injured star outfielders Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger.
Joe Ross threw five scoreless innings of two-hit ball for the Nationals, who lost their third straight after starting the season late and short-handed because of coronavirus cases and quarantines.
The Dodgers received their World Series championship rings in a pregame event in front of the fans who weren’t allowed inside Dodger Stadium in 2020 while their franchise won its seventh title. Clayton Kershaw, Betts and their teammates were cheered by a pandemic-limited sellout crowd of 15,036 while they got their jewelry at Chavez Ravine.
Corey Knebel struck out the side in the ninth for his second save, completing the shutout by four Dodgers pitchers in this meeting of the last two World Series champions. Washington was shut out for the second straight game, although Wednesday’s whitewash was the back end of a seven-inning doubleheader.
Fans hadn’t been in Dodger Stadium since Game 5 of the 2019 N.L. division series, when the Nationals eliminated Los Angeles on the way to their own championship. Washington also kept the powerhouse Dodgers out of the World Series for the only time in the past four seasons.
Buehler (1-0) yielded six hits with four strikeouts and no walks in another strong start for LA.
Blue Jays May be Buffalo-Bound
The Toronto Blue Jays, who are prevented from playing in their home park because of coronavirus-related travel restrictions, held Thursday’s home opener in front of 1,348 fans at TD Park in Dunedin, Fla., but their days of calling a spring training facility home may be numbered. The team’s Class AAA affiliate in Buffalo announced on Friday that it would be temporarily relocating to Trenton, N.J., while its stadium, Sahlen Field, is upgraded to major league standards.
In a letter to fans, the Bisons suggested the changes would allow for “the potential return of the Blue Jays to Sahlen Field.”
There is no timetable for the Blue Jays to relocate from Florida to Buffalo — it is not even guaranteed that it will happen — but preparations are being made just in case. Toronto had pledged to call Dunedin home for at least the first three homestands of the season. BENJAMIN HOFFMAN
The Latest on Coronavirus Testing
Major League Baseball and the Major League Baseball Players Association announced the latest round of coronavirus testing results on Friday.
In the weekly results, 12,494 tests were conducted and only four new positives (one M.L.B. player, one alternative site player and two staff members) were reported. To date, the league had conducted 105,633 tests, either in monitoring or intake situations, with 43 total positives. Yet 20 of the league’s 30 teams have had at least one positive from an individual covered by the testing. BENJAMIN HOFFMAN