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Yankees 5, Rays 3: Balanced offensive effort backs Michael Pineda

Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
The New York Yankees beat the Tampa Bay Rays today to clinch the sweep, extend their win streak to three games and get back to .500 in the early part of the season.

The Yankees manufactured a run in the first inning, after Jacoby Ellsbury reached on a single then took second base on a balk. A pair of sacrifices followed as Brett Gardner bunted Ellsbury over and Mark Teixeira brought him home with a flyball to right field. It was a short-lived lead though. Michael Pineda didn't get off to the best of starts, walking David DeJesus to lead off the game and giving up a two-run home run to Steven Souza Jr. Things looked a little nervous when Asdrubal Cabrera reached on a infield single still with no outs but the defense helped get Pineda out of the inning, first Chase Headley with a diving stop preventing an extra-base hit to Evan Longoria, then John Ryan Murphy getting the third out of the inning when he caught Desmond Jennings attempting to steal second.

The Yankees took the lead back in the top of the third. Ellsbury lead off the inning with a single but was caught stealing second. Gardner followed with a base hit of his own though, and Alex Rodriguez doubled him over to third. Teixeira grounded Gardner home, and Headley singled up the middle to bring home Rodriguez. The Yankees tacked on to their lead in the fourth inning when Garrett Jones lead off with a triple after Jennings misplayed a line drive to center field. Murphy hit a sacrifice fly to deep center to drive in the fourth Yankee run of the day. Didi Gregorius reaching on an infield single knocked rookie Tampa Bay starter Matt Andriese out of the ballgame. Steve Geltz got the Rays out of the fourth inning but ran into trouble in the fifth. Rodriguez walked on four pitches, eventually coming around to score on a Headley double into the right field corner. An additional insurance run to take the score to 5-2.

The insurance runs came in handy in the bottom of the fifth, when the top of the Rays lineup once again got to Pineda. DeJesus reached on a one out single, and came around to score on a Souza double. Once again, the defense sparkled behind him, as Headley got Longoria out on a throw from deep third base, a difficult scoop that Teixeira made look easy, as ever. Stephen Drew got in on the act in the sixth inning with a great grab in short right field to nail Allan Dykstra at first with a throw from the knees. Drew had another great stop at second earlier, and looks more comfortable than ever at his new position.

Pineda was pulled after 92 pitches, after pitching five and two-thirds innings. Three runs, and seven hits on the day, but his performance probably was better than the line suggests. Five strikeouts and the one walk, as he largely kept Tampa Bay in check. Chris Martin got the Yankees out of the sixth before letting the lead-off man Rene Rivera reach in the seventh. Justin Wilson came in for an out, and retired right-handed pinch hitter Logan Forsythe, but allowed Rivera to advance on a wild pitch. Joe Girardi then sent in Dellin Betances who got the Yanks out of the seventh. Betances walked Jennings in the eighth, but otherwise dispatched the Rays to hold the lead. Andrew Miller, de facto closer if not yet de jure, came on for the ninth and the save. A leadoff double to Ryan Brett made things a little exciting, but the now mad Yankee game enderer ended the game in dominant fashion, striking out the side.

There were a lot of positives today. The win and the sweep. A balanced day offensively with 11 hits total as every starter reached base and generally all had good at-bats. The defense looked good behind Pineda, who was solid himself. The bullpen, tasked with getting the final ten outs in a close game, once again held up. After somewhat of a sluggish start to the year, the Yankees carry positive momentum to Detroit to start a four game series against the Tigers tomorrow at 7pm Eastern. CC Sabathia takes the mound for the Yankees against Alfredo Simon.