Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez knocked solo home runs as the New York Yankees broke out of their struggle against the Tampa Bay Rays with a series-opening 3-1 win Tuesday night in St. Petersburg, Fla.
Despite winning for the 10th time in the past 13 games, the red-hot Yankees improved to just 6-18 against Tampa Bay in the last 24 contests, including the 2020 American League Division Series, and 2-5 this season.
Before the game, New York third-base coach Phil Nevin -- fully vaccinated -- tested positive for COVID-19 and was placed into quarantine protocol.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone said contact tracing affected other coaches on his staff as well. However, the game went on as scheduled.
Judge went 2-for-4, Sanchez ripped his fourth homer and closer Aroldis Chapman worked around an error and a walk in a scoreless ninth to go to 8-for-8 in saves.
In facing the Rays for the third time this season, left-hander Jordan Montgomery (2-1) yielded two hits -- one a solo homer -- in six innings and matched his career-high with nine strikeouts while walking one.
Tampa Bay catcher Mike Zunino tied for the team lead with his seventh home run, but the Rays posted just three hits and lost for the third time in four outings.
Luis Patino (1-1) tossed four innings and surrendered two runs (one earned) on three hits in his third career start and first appearance against New York. He struck out three, walked one and hit a batter in taking his first career loss.
After the right-handed Patino retired the game's first two batters, Judge jumped on a first-pitch fastball up in the zone and sent a drive to center field. The blast banged off the wall below the batter's eye for the slugger's eighth homer.
In the third, Zunino uncharacteristically committed a pair of passed balls with Judge batting, allowing DJ LeMahieu to score an unearned run for a 2-0 lead.
However, he got the run back with a monstrous solo shot to center in the bottom half of the frame -- estimated at 472 feet by Statcast -- on a 3-2 sinker from Montgomery.
Sanchez gave New York an insurance run in the seventh when he went down and slashed a 2-0 two-seamer away in the zone and belted a solo shot the other way to right for a 3-1 lead.
--Field Level Media