ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pinch-hitter Michael Perez hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning on his 28th birthday, six Tampa Bay pitchers combined on a two-hitter and the Tampa Bay Rays beat the AL East-leading New York Yankees 1-0 on Friday night.
"I think so, yeah," Perez said through a translator when asked if this was the best gift he could have given himself.
Yoshi Tsutsugo drew a leadoff walk from Adam Ottavino (2-1) in the eighth and went to second with one out when Kevin Kiermaier walked. Both runners advanced a base on a wild pitch before Perez drove in the game's only run on his fly to center.
Chaz Roe (2-0) went the final two innings for the win as the Rays got their second win in the last eight games.
"Can't say enough about the pitching," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "
Masahiro Tanaka allowed one hit and struck out five over five innings, retiring his final 13 batters after giving up a first-inning single to Yandy Diaz. The Yankees' right-hander needed just 59 pitches in his second start after beginning the season on the concussion list after being struck in the head by Giancarlo Stanton's liner during a July 4th summer camp simulated game.
"That's as good as you'll see Masa right there," Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. "Split was good for him. Command was excellent, change of pace with the breaking ball and slider and keeping them off with a good fastball too. Another really good step for him."
Three New York pitchers also limited the Rays to just two hits.
"I think there's going to be games like this where both teams aren't really able to score," Tanaka said through a translator. "So you just kind of have to leave this and just go into tomorrow. I think it's really important for us to just kind of move forward. Just kind of change the mood."
After being held hitless by Blake Snell and Andrew Kittredge through five innings, the Yankees got their first hit when DJ LeMahieu lined a single to right with one out in the sixth off Pete Fairbanks.
"The Yankees are a great team, so when we beat them it's always a good feeling," Snell said.
Snell needed 59 pitches to get through three innings, striking out five and walking two. Kittredge followed with two perfect innings.
The Yankees loaded the bases, on three walks, with two outs in the seventh but Nick Anderson struck out struggling Gary Sanchez on three pitches.
Mike Tauchman had a leadoff double in the eighth but was thrown out for the first out on LeMahieu's grounder to shortstop Willy Adames.
New York's season opening stretch of homering in 12 straight games ended. Only four teams have had a longer run.
The Rays called up LHP Sean Gilmartin from the alternate training site. The reliever is married to White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany. He appeared in one game with Baltimore last season and has a 4-5 record with a 4.18 ERA in 79 big league games overall.
Tanaka faced fellow Japanese star Tsutsugo for the first time in a professional game and held him hitless in two at-bats. Tsutsugo joined the Rays this season.
Rays: Reliever José Alvarado was placed on the paternity list. … RHP Yonny Chirinos is out due to right triceps inflammation. … OF Manuel Margot was reinstated from the bereavement list and placed on the COVID-19 related IL. He is undergoing required intake testing after going to the Dominican Republic following the death of his father. Cash said Margot's first test was negative.
Yankees RHP Gerrit Cole (3-0) and Rays RHP Tyler Glasnow (0-0) are the scheduled starters in Game 1 of a doubleheader Saturday. Cole is seeking his 20th consecutive win, dating to May 27, 2019. Both teams will rely their bullpens in the other game.