Pineda flirts with perfecto as Yanks roll

Pineda flirts with perfecto as Yanks roll

NEW YORK -- Michael Pineda retired the first 20 batters he faced in an electric 11-strikeout performance, leading the Yankees to an 8-1 victory over the Rays in their home opener on Monday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Evan Longoria broke up the bid for perfection with a two-out double in the seventh inning, as Pineda secured his first win of the year behind 7 2/3 innings of one-run, two-hit ball in front of a sellout crowd of 46,955.

Pineda loses perfect-game bid

"Today is a good game; it's Opening Day here in New York," Pineda said. "The fans have been waiting for that day. I feel happy today, we have a lot of energy. I'm good."

Nine of Pineda's strikeouts came on his devastating slider, with the right-hander also mixing in his fastball and changeup. He started 15 of the first 18 batters with strikes and did not fall behind 2-0 in a count until the sixth inning.

Pineda perfect through six

"It just seemed he was really commanding well," Longoria said. "Throwing it wherever he wanted to. He was back door to lefties, down and away to right-handers. And when he needed to add a little more velocity or depth, he really had a good feel for it today."

Staring down 4th perfecto, Longo ends bid

Leaning heavily on a devastating slider, Pineda retired the first 20 batters before Evan Longoria's two-out double to left field in the seventh inning. Pineda received a standing ovation as he exited with two outs in the eighth, snapping an 11-start winless streak as he picked up his first victory since Aug. 5 at Cleveland.

Aaron Judge and Chase Headley homered off Rays starter Alex Cobb, who permitted five runs (four earned) and six hits over 7 1/3 innings. Jacoby Ellsbury and Matt Holliday contributed run-scoring doubles as the Yankees improved to 16-4 in home openers since 1998.

Judge's solo homer

Logan Morrison broke up Pineda's shutout bid with an umpire-reviewed home run to right-center field in the eighth. Starlin Castro belted an umpire-reviewed two-run homer off Austin Pruitt in the Yanks' five-run eighth.

Morrison's solo shot

Big Mike has it working: Yanks catcher Austin Romine said that every Pineda start carries the potential for "crazy numbers," and Monday was one of those performances. It was the seventh double-digit strikeout game of Pineda's career, and his first since fanning 11 Rays last Sept. 20. He was the first Yankees pitcher to be perfect through 6 2/3 innings since Andy Pettitte on Aug. 31, 2009.

Romine on catching Pineda

"You're thinking it's going to be another special day here at the Stadium," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "Obviously he pitched really, really well today. I thought he had a shot. His stuff was really good, his pitch count was down." More >

Girardi on home opener win

Hitting 'em hard: With 15 of the Yankees' next 21 games at home, Girardi said that this presented a good opportunity to make up ground, playing in a ballpark which suits their strengths. Few yards would have held Judge's fourth-inning drive off Cobb, which came off the bat at 109 mph, per Statcast™. It was Judge's second homer in as many days. Headley's seventh-inning smash off Cobb registered a 107.9 mph exit velocity via Statcast™.

Headley's solo homer

"You could feel a different energy in the Stadium," Judge said. "I've been to a couple of games last year when we were playing Toronto. The crowd was really into it, but it's Opening Day, man. It was something else. It's my first Opening Day, too. I really enjoyed it."

Yankees catcher Kyle Higashioka made his Major League debut, entering as a defensive replacement in the top of the ninth. Selected in the seventh round of the 2008 MLB Draft, Higashioka spent parts of 10 seasons in the Minors with the Yankees.

Higashioka's MLB debut

Rays: Righty Blake Snell (0-1, 5.40 ERA) will make his second start Wednesday at 1:05 p.m. ET after losing to Toronto on Thursday night. Snell is 2-1 with a 1.80 ERA in four career starts against the Yankees. He is 0-1 with a 4.70 ERA in two starts at Yankee Stadium. One of those was his Major League debut April 23, 2016.

Yankees: Jordan Montgomery won the fifth-starter competition and will make his Major League debut Wednesday. The 24-year-old lefty was 14-5 with a 2.13 ERA in the Minors last year.

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Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.

Bill Chastain has covered the Rays for since 2005.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.