Tampa Bay 8, NY Yankees 1
When: 1:05 PM ET, Sunday, April 24, 2016
Where: Yankee Stadium, Bronx, New York
Ben May, 1B -
Angel Hernandez, 2B -
Will Little, 3B -
NEW YORK -- Two years ago Steven Souza Jr.'s birthday gift was getting sent down to the minors, and last year it was a day off against knuckleballer R.A. Dickey.
On Sunday, Souza had some better gifts in the form of fastballs from Michael Pineda.
Souza turned those pitches into a pair of home runs, and the Tampa Bay Rays hit four of their five home runs off Pineda during an 8-1 rout of the New York Yankees.
"This year I'm very thankful to play on it," Souza said. "It's great, it really is. I think just playing in Yankee Stadium on my birthday. When I was kid you grow up watching the Yankees and the Mariners and the rivalries. So just being here and then hitting the two home runs is obviously exciting."
Souza celebrated his 27th birthday by recording his second career multi-homer game and Tampa Bay hit five home runs in New York for the third time in team history.
Souza's first home came on a 2-0 fastball and reached the left-field bleachers, giving Tampa Bay a 5-0 lead with two outs in the first. Then the right-handed right fielder opened the fifth by connecting on a first pitch fastball. His blast stayed just inside the foul pole and landed in the second deck in right field, extending Tampa Bay's lead to 7-1.
"I love going the other way, so anytime I drive the ball the other way, that's my game plan," Souza said. "To see it go out was pretty awesome."
Souza became the first Ray to hit two home runs on his birthday and the 12th Tampa Bay player to hit a home run on his birthday. He also was the first player to homer on his birthday since Minnesota's Trevor Plouffe did it on June 15, 2012, and Souza joined Justin Morneau as the second player to homer on his birthday at the current Yankee Stadium.
"The ball Souza hit to right was extremely impressive," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "You don't see too many right-handers do that."
Souza's big day came after Cash gave center fielder Kevin Kiermaier the night off on his 25th birthday Friday.
"I've heard enough about that already from KK and from others," Cash said. "In the advance reports I'll make sure I have all the birthdates of all our players."
Besides Souza, other Rays not celebrating birthdays contributed in a game Tampa Bay never trailed.
Corey Dickerson started the Rays five-run first inning with a two-run homer into the right-field seats, and Brad Miller had an RBI double ahead of Souza's first home run. Steve Pearce added a solo home run with nobody out in the third and Logan Forsythe capped the big day with a solo drive in the eighth.
The Rays had only led in one inning during Drew Smyly's first three starts. Once Smyly (1-2) got the quick lead Sunday, he showed no signs of giving it back, allowing one run and six hits in seven innings.
"It's fun to pitch with a lead," Smyly said. "It makes my job a bit easier."
For the Yankees it was a lost day on multiple fronts as they fell to 7-10, ended a 3-6 homestand and allowed five home runs for the fourth time since the start of the 2013 season. Already down a player due to Aaron Hicks' shoulder injury, Alex Rodriguez left the game in the sixth with stiffness in his left oblique.
Rodriguez drove in New York's lone run with an RBI double in the fourth and was injured taking swings in the batting cage in between at-bats.
"Anytime someone has an oblique, you're not optimistic because they take a while," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said.
Rodriguez exited after Pineda finished with a strange line of five innings, seven runs and nine strikeouts. He became the first Yankee to allow at least four home runs while also getting at least nine strikeouts in a nine-inning game.
"He didn't have the movement on his fastball," Girardi said. "He didn't have the cut on it. Sometimes it's hard to figure out. You'd never think a guy would have nine strikeouts in five innings and give up four home runs."
NOTES: New York OF Aaron Hicks did not play Sunday due to the sore left shoulder he injured Friday, and there is not a clear timetable for his return. Hicks said he is making the trip to Texas, and manager Joe Girardi said there is not a plan to place him on the disabled list. ... The Rays purchased the contract of RHP Jhan Martinez from Triple-A Durham to take the spot of LHP Blake Snell, who was optioned after Saturday's game. To make room for Martinez, RHP Alex Cobb (Tommy John surgery) was moved to the 60-day disabled list. Asked what he thought of Snell a day later, manager Kevin Cash said: "Just zero fear whatsoever. He's not concerned about shying away from contact." ... The Yankees held a moment of silence for minor leaguer infielder Sandy Acevedo. The 18-year-old was killed in a car accident Saturday night. The Yankees signed him out of the Dominican Republic last July.
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