Rays Rout Yankees, 15-5

First baseman Nick Swisher called in to pitch for visitors

Joe Maddon believes his Tampa Bay Rays are talented enough to return to the postseason as long as they remain level-headed.

The manager, who presided over one of the biggest turnarounds in major league history last season, likes what he's seen so far.

"I've said all along ... my biggest concern is how we were going to react to success. And to this point, I'm pleased," Maddon said after Monday night's 15-5 rout of the New York Yankees served as the perfect ending for an emotional banner-raising ceremony at Tropicana Field.

"Gratitude and humility, I really believe in that. And I think our guys have channeled all the success properly to this point."

Carlos Pena hit a grand slam and drove in six runs to back the pitching of Scott Kazmir (2-0) and Maddon felt good about the way the team handled all the hoopla surrounding the team's home opener.

The Rays toasted last year's improbable run to the World Series by hanging two large blue and white division and league championship banners above the left-field stands during a festive pregame ceremony.

They spent the rest of the night pleasing the sellout crowd of 36,973 by beating up on a division rival that committed more than $400 million to bolster its roster with hopes of regaining supremacy in the AL East.

"This division is going to be really tough," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "We didn't really need a reminder, but it was there."

The young, confident Rays homered three times, amassed 17 hits and stole four bases. Meanwhile, B.J. Upton was activated from the disabled list and made the defensive play of the night, an over-the-head basket catch on Xavier Nady's drive to the center field wall in the second inning.

"We showed everything," Rays outfielder Carl Crawford said. "When we play like that, we're tough to beat."

It got so bad for the Yankees that first baseman Nick Swisher pitched a scoreless eighth inning, the first New York position player to take the mound since Wade Boggs used his knuckleball in 1997.

Swisher hadn't pitched since he was a freshman in high school.

"I had fun with it. When am I ever going to have a chance to do that again? Probably never," Swisher said. "We know we didn't play very well. Got to find something to laugh about in that moment. I just happened to be the guy."

Kazmir (2-0) allowed three runs and six hits in 6 2-3 innings, including Swisher's solo homer in the fourth and Melky Cabrera's RBI single in the fifth. The left-hander struck out six and walked none.

Wang (0-2) allowed eight runs and six hits in the shortest start of his career. The last three runs charged to the right-hander scored on Pena's grand slam off Jonathan Albaladejo.

"Whatever could go wrong tonight went wrong," Girardi said. "It started with starting pitching."

Copyright AP - Associated Press
Contact Us