ST. PETERSBURG — Struggling against tough Yankees pitching for a third straight game, the Rays weren’t concerned Saturday afternoon with style points or exit velocities.
So they were just fine with the key hits in a much-needed 3-1 win over the Yankees coming on a 64.5-mph line drive single, a 74.9-mph blooper down the rightfield line and a slow bouncer to third base.
“Sometimes you hit the ball really hard and you don’t get anything out of it,” third baseman Yandy Diaz said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “(Saturday) we didn’t hit the ball hard and we were able to score some runs. So however we’ve got to do it, we’ll do it.”
And they got to be happy about it, having lost the first two games of the season between the American League East’s top two teams and not putting up much of a fight given their quiet bats. Playing before a Tropicana Field sellout crowd of 25,025, the Rays improved to 27-19 and reduced their division deficit to 5 ½ games behind the majors-best 33-14 Yankees.
“It was a good win, man,” manager Kevin Cash said. “Anytime you’re going up against the Yankees, and especially when Gerrit Cole’s on the mound and you find a way to win a game when he was pretty lights out for his outing, we’re happy.”
The Rays’ Randy Arozarena hits a single, allowing Ji-Man Choi to score a run in the sixth…