ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Rich Hill pitched six strong innings, Austin Meadows led a hit parade against Corey Kluber and New York’s bullpen, and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the Yankees 10-5 Friday to snap a four-game skid.
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.
Aaron Hicks and DJ LeMahieu homered for the Yankees. New York has dropped nine of 11 regular season meetings against the reigning AL champions.
The Rays’ home opener drew a socially-distanced crowd of 9,021 to Tropicana Field, where fans had not watched them since Oct. 8, 2019, Game 4 of that year’s AL Division Series against the Houston Astros.
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 AL East title, a victory over the Yankees in the ALDS and the franchise’s second pennant.
The salute was capped by the unveiling of two banners commemorating the latest division title and AL crown.
“Any time you win a division and you’re representing the American League getting to the World Series, I think that speaks clearly enough to how talented the group was, how special the team was,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said before the game.
Hicks anticipated the ceremony being difficult to watch.
“Yeah, it’s definitely something that we want to be doing. But they won last year,” the center fielder said. “This is a new year and we expect to go out there and dominate.”
At least for now, though, the Rays seem to have the Yankees’ number.
The reigning AL champs 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.
Joey 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 2 1/3 innings. On the way to building the lead to 9-4, Brandon Lowe drove in three with a fourth-inning double.
All of New York’s success against Hill came with two outs in the third, with Giancarlo Stanton beating the defensive shift with a two-run single to right-center and Hicks hitting a two-run homer for the fourth consecutive hit off the Rays starter.
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 due to side effects from a vaccination.