NEW YORK (AP)—Tampa Bay backup catcher Shawn Riggans was on the bench, studying Yankees batters for his start Saturday when starting backstop Dioner Navarro took a gruesome fall down the dugout steps.
With little time to prepare for an at-bat against a pitcher he never thought he’d face, Riggans hit a line drive to right-center field for a three-run double in his first at-bat at Yankee Stadium.
Riggans doubled his career RBI total and chased Yankees youngster Ian Kennedy in the third inning of the Rays’ 13-4 win over New York on Friday night, a game missed by Yankees manager Joe Girardi, who had an upper respiratory infection.
“I was excited,” Riggans said. “No words really could describe the feeling.”
Carlos Pena hit a three-run homer off reliever LaTroy Hawkins in a seven-run eighth, and every Rays position player had at least a hit and scored a run except Navarro, who left in the third after falling. Navarro sliced open his right ring and middle fingers on his throwing hand and was taken to a hospital, where he was given 12 stitches. He was placed on the 15-day disabled list.
“It was freaky,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said. “I think he grabbed on the net and cut the inside of his hand. I didn’t even want to look at it.
“Then Riggans came in and obviously he is supposed to hit a double with the bases loaded,” Maddon added with a laugh.
Kennedy (0-1), one of the trio of touted young pitchers who are expected to anchor the Yankees rotation for years to come, didn’t have the precise command he relies upon in his fourth career start. He walked four and threw only 32 of 70 pitches for strikes in 2 1-3 innings.
The Rays took advantage of Kennedy’s wildness to score six times in the first three innings, and the-23-year-old appeared to struggle with umpire Doug Eddings’ tight strike zone.
“His body language said he was a little frustrated,” said bench coach Rob Thomson, who filled in for Girardi.
Former Mets left fielder Cliff Floyd homered to right leading off the eighth against Hawkins and rounded the bases to a loud Bronx cheer. Hakwins gave up six runs in the inning.
Pena, the first batter facing Kyle Farnsworth, the Yankees’ sixth pitcher, hit a drive into the upper deck in right to complete the scoring in a seven-run eighth.
Andy Pettitte follows Kennedy and makes his first start Saturday after a dreadful offseason, where he was named in the Mitchell report, admitted to using human growth hormone and gave a deposition and affidavit to a House committee contradicting friend Roger Clemens’ testimony.
“I’m just ready to pitch more than anything,” he said before the game. “The way spring training went I haven’t been really thinking about it. … I put everything out on the plate; been honest with everything that has to do with me.”
It was the first regular-season meeting between the Yankees and Rays since they fought and exchanged nasty words during spring training.
The Yankees played without center fielder Melky Cabrera and the Rays were without Jonny Gomes. Each dropped their appeals of suspensions—which were reduced by a game each—for their roles in the bench-clearing scrap on March 12. Cabrera is out for two games and Gomes for one.
Yankees reserve Shelley Duncan also dropped his appeal and will sit out two games—reduced from three—starting Sunday. He instigated the fight by making a spikes-high hard slide into Rays second baseman Akinori Iwamura. Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon called the play “borderline criminal.”
The Yankees, who scored just eight runs in the first three games of the season, hit Andy Sonnanstine (1-0) hard in the bottom of the third and scored four runs on five hits. Hideki Matsui hit his first homer, Derek Jeter hit an RBI triple off the wall in center, Bobby Abreu had a run-scoring groundout and Jason Giambi hit an RBI double.
Otherwise, Sonnanstine shut the Yankees down for six innings. He gave up one other hit and struck out four in a start pushed back a day because of a rainout in Baltimore.
Yankees catcher Jorge Posada was the DH after missing two games with a stiff right shoulder. He was originally slated to catch but told the team during warmups he wasn’t ready. … Riggans came into the season with just three RBIs in 13 games. … Girardi gets the loss because Thomson was an acting manager.