Masahiro Tanaka

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Archer outduels Tanaka, Rays top Yankees in MLB opener

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Pitch by pitch, Chris Archer set the tone for what he and the Tampa Bay Rays hope will be a bounce-back year.

Not such a good start for Masahiro Tanaka and the New York Yankees.

Archer pitched seven solid innings, and the Rays roughed up Tanaka on the way to beating New York 7-3 in the first game of the new Major League Baseball season Sunday.

“We didn’t play perfect, but we played well enough to win,” Archer said. “We scored a lot of runs and made some nice defensive plays. It’s all about winning, and we did that.”

And what the Rays didn’t do a lot of last season, when they sank to the bottom of the AL East with their worst finish (68-94) since 2007.

New York lost on opening day for the sixth consecutive year, with Tanaka matching the shortest start ever by a Yankees pitcher in an opener.

“It happens. He’s human,” Yankees pitching coach Larry Rothschild said. “He just didn’t command anything. … He usually self corrects real well. But today, he tried a few things and it just didn’t work.”

Evan Longoria and Logan Morrison homered and drove in three runs apiece before a sellout crowd of 31,042 at Tropicana Field. Tanaka, who had baseball’s lowest ERA in spring training, was tagged for a career-worst seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings.

A first-time All-Star in 2015 who lost an AL-leading 19 times last season, Archer (1-0) limited New York to two runs and seven hits. He narrowly escaped a bases-loaded jam in the seventh to turn a five-run lead over to a revamped bullpen.

Rays manager Kevin Cash said it was important to give his ace an opportunity to get through the seventh.

“I’m really happy he did, not only for my sake but the other guys on the staff, too,” Archer said. ” I want them to know when stuff gets hairy, you need to strap it on and go right after them. We don’t need to be bailed out, we need to get out of the inning.”

There were three games around in the majors on the first day, and the Rays got off to a quick start.

Leadoff man Corey Dickerson singled in the Tampa Bay first for the first hit of the season and later scored on Longoria’s sacrifice fly as part of a three-run inning. Longoria connected for a two-run drive in the second.

Aaron Judge had a RBI double, while Starlin Castro and Chase Headley each had three hits for the Yankees.

Tanaka (0-1) made his third consecutive opening day start for the Yankees, and had been 6-0 with a 2.82 ERA in eight career starts against Tampa Bay. He gave up eight hits and two walks.

Longoria connected for his fourth homer on opening day. Morrison, who didn’t drive in a run until May 17 last season, added a solo drive in the third.

“Obviously, you just have to accept it. I can’t take it back,” Tanaka said through a translator. “So, the main thing is, I really need to move forward from today. Make the necessary adjustments.”

UNCHARACTERISTIC

Tanaka, who tied Hideo Nomo for the most opening day starts by a Japanese-born pitcher, had a seven-game winning streak stopped. He went 7-0 with a 2.28 ERA over his final nine starts of last season. … Tanaka had won all three of his previous career starts at Tropicana Field, limiting the Rays to four earned runs in 20 innings for a 1.80 ERA. He led the AL with a 2.36 road ERA in 2016, trailing only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard (2.29) for the major league lead.

It was the second-shortest start of Tanka’s career. He tied the Yankees shortest on opening day, joining Ron Guidry (1983) and Mel Stottlemyre (1973).

LEADING OFF

Dickerson, who hit 24 home runs last year, was 1 for 5 in his debut as Tampa Bay’s leadoff hitter against right-handed pitching. Cash is considering moving right-handed batting Steven Souza Jr. to the top of the order against left-handers, beginning Tuesday against CC Sabathia.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Yankees: SS Didi Gregorius (right shoulder strain) expects to start limited baseball activities the middle of this week. He is out until some time in May. … INF-OF Tyler Austin (broken left ankle) was placed on the 60-day disabled list.

Rays: Longoria, who sat out Tampa Bay’s final spring training game due to a stiff neck, made his club-record ninth consecutive start on opening day. … Seven players, including C Wilson Ramos, OF Colby Rasmus and SS Matt Duffy, begin the season on the disabled list.

UP NEXT

Yankees: LHP CC Sabathia, 3-7 in 14 starts at Tropicana Field since joining New York in 2009, is Tuesday night’s scheduled starter. He’s 2-0 against the Rays in three road starts over the last two seasons.

Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi is set to work the second game of the series, which resumes after a day off. He went 7-1 with a 2.71 ERA in 14 outings after the All-Star break last year. He was the only Tampa Bay starter with a winning record, at 10-6, in 2016.

Mets power past Yankees to take Subway Series opener

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The first-place Mets and second-place Yankees did battle against each other in Queens on Friday night in the opener of the “Subway Series”. Both teams are vying for a return to post-season glory, with the Mets coming into the night leading the NL East over the Nationals by eight games and the Yankees trailing the first-place Blue Jays in the AL East by 3.5 games.

The Mets continued to show they belong, taking a 5-1 victory. Starter Steven Matz outdueled Masahiro Tanaka, pitching six innings of one run ball. He scattered seven hits and a walk while striking out four. Tanaka allowed two runs in six frames, giving up five hits in total with four strikeouts and no walks.

Both of the Mets’ runs against Tanaka came on solo home runs. Lucas Duda hit a line drive off of the facing of the second deck in the second inning, and Daniel Murphy broke a 1-1 tie in the sixth inning with a no-doubt solo shot to right-center. Juan Uribe would tack on a two-run home run to the opposite field in the seventh off of reliever Chasen Shreve, and Eric Young, Jr. scored on a James Pazos wild pitch in the eighth. Closer Jeurys Familia got into some trouble in the top of the ninth, loading the bases with one out, but he bounced back to get Brett Gardner to fly out and Chase Headley to strike out.

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes, one of the best hitters in baseball since joining the Mets at the trade deadline, went 0-for-4. He’s been held hitless in each of his last three games.

Meanwhile, the Nationals’ bullpen couldn’t get the job done again. They brought a 4-3 lead over the Marlins into the ninth inning but closer Jonathan Papelbon allowed a leadoff double which eventually led to the Marlins scoring the tying run. The game is 4-4 in the 10th inning as of this writing. As for the Yankee-relevant part of the scoreboard, the Blue Jays topped the Red Sox 6-1 to stretch their lead in the division to 4.5 games.

Noah Syndergaard of the Mets and Michael Pineda of the Yankees will take the hill on Saturday afternoon as the Subway Series continues.

Settling the Score: Friday’s results

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Behind seven strong innings from Masahiro Tanaka and some late heroics by Alex Rodriguez, the Yankees began the second half of the season with a 4-3 win over the Mariners last night at Yankee Stadium.

Tanaka allowed three runs in the victory, with Kyle Seager doing all of the damage. Seager hit a solo home run in the third inning before hitting a two-run shot in the fifth. However, Tanaka was able to keep the rest of the Mariners offense off the board. He struck out seven and walked two in the victory and now owns a 3.65 ERA and 74/15 K/BB ratio over 74 innings on the year.

The game was tied 3-3 before Alex Rodriguez connected for a go-ahead solo homer off Joe Beimel in the bottom of the seventh inning. You can watch it here. It was A-Rod’s 19th home run of the season and the 673rd of his career. Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller each threw a scoreless inning to finish off the win for New York.

The Yankees now sit at 49-40 on the year and hold a 4 1/2 game lead in the American League East.

Your Friday box scores and AP recaps:

Royals 4, White Sox 2; Royals 0, White Sox 2

Mariners 3, Yankees 4

Marlins 3, Phillies 6

Cubs 2, Braves 4

Rays 2, Blue Jays 6

Cubs 2, Braves 4

Indians 1, Reds 6

Pirates 1, Brewers 4

Orioles 3, Tigers 7

Mets 2, Cardinals 3

Tigers 2, Astros 3

Giants 6, Diamondbacks 5 (12 innings)

Red Sox 0, Angels 1

Rockies 2, Padres 4

Twins 5, Athletics 0

Dodgers/Nationals – suspended