ST. PETERSBURG -- Where to start?
With the pitching? Chris Archer was outstanding.
With the offense? Powered by Ryan Hanigan, Wil Myers and Evan Longoria, it was outstanding again.
Mix them together Saturday and you get a 16-1 Tampa Bay Rays victory, a walk-in-the-park against the New York Yankees in front of 30,159 at Tropicana Field.
“It was really fun to watch,” Rays manager Joe Maddon said.
Hanigan homered twice and drove in six runs. Myers, who appears to be emerging from his early season slump, also homered twice and drove in four runs.
“I think (Friday) was a big spark for us, to get that come-from-behind win,” Myers said. “Hitting is contagious, and I think you've seen that the last two nights.”
The Rays tied two team records for home runs, and Longoria moved past Carlos Peña on the team's all-time home run list with the 164th of his career, a titanic blast to left field in the third inning that hit the C-ring catwalk.
“I guess it was about time,” Longoria said. “It took me quite a while to do it, but it came in a game that we needed to win. This was a good statement win for us. To be able to come out against (Yankees starter Ivan) Nova, who has given us trouble in the past, and put together an offensive performance like we did, it's one of those games where you hope it kind of propels you going forward. It was fun to be able to do it in (Saturday night's) game.”
Yet, when asked afterwards about Longoria, Maddon mentioned Longoria's sacrifice fly to right field in the fifth inning that extended the Rays lead to 7-1.
“Out of everything that he did, runner on second and third, nobody out, sacrifice fly to right field was a big, pro at-bat,” Maddon said. “I really appreciated that about a lot. He wasn't trying to do too much. He was just trying to drive in a run. That's how you drive in 100-plus runs, when you have that kind of a mindset. That was impressive.”
How about Hanigan?
“That's a tough night to beat,” Maddon said. “Overall, he just played a complete game, including the calling of the game.”
Hanigan also threw out Jacoby Ellsbury stealing second base for the second out of the first inning, a play that changed the complexion of the inning and perhaps the night.
“It was a good win,” Hanigan said. “I felt good offensively. It was nice to drive in runs, for sure. I don't know what else to say about it.”
Archer continued his dominance against the Yankees, allowing only one run in 6 2/3 innings. Archer is 4-0 with a 1.26 ERA in four starts against the Yankees.
Even with the offense during the last two games the Rays needed a solid outing from the starting pitcher and that's what Archer delivered. He retired 12 straight after a single by Ellsbury to start the game. An RBI double by former Ray Kelly Johnson in the fifth inning ended the shutout.
“He threw strikes,” Maddon said. “He missed the zone a couple of times, but then he would come back into it. Overall, he was a strike-thrower.”
The two homers each by Myers and Hanigan marked the third time in franchise history that two Rays homered twice in the same game. The last time was June 11, 2006 at Kansas City when Carl Crawford and Jonny Gomes turned the trick.
Add Longoria's homer and the Rays had five homers, tying the team record for most in a game at the Trop. The Rays have done that four times, the last Sept. 18, 2008 against the Twins.
Nova left the game in the fifth inning with right elbow soreness after throwing a pitch to Longoria. He shook his right arm after the pitch and left without throwing a warm up pitch. He will undergo further testing on the arm today.
C.J. Riefenhauser replaced Archer with two outs in the seventh for his major league debut. Called up earlier in the day to give the Rays a fresh arm for the bullpen, the New York native who once cheered the Yankees on from the bleachers at Yankee Stadium, retired all four Yankees he faced.
The game even featured a pitching performance by a Yankees shortstop, though not that Yankees shortstop.
Derek Jeter had the night off. His understudy, Dean Anna, pitched the eighth inning and allowed a pair of runs.
The Rays 16 runs were a season-high. The 16 hits tied the season-high set Friday during their come-from-behind 11-5 win.
In fact, since trailing 4-0 in the second inning Friday, the Rays have outscored the Yankees 27-2.
Those 16 runs were two more than the Rays scored during their recent 10-game funk.
Before the game, Maddon said the Rays were better than what they showed during the last road trip, when they scored 14 runs in eight games and lost five times. He also said they were not the team that scored 11 runs Friday night against the Yankees. He said his team was somewhere in the middle of those two extremes.
Maddon was asked where Saturday's 16-run performance fit in between those extremes.
“It's one of those nights where everything came together,” Maddon said. “We do lie somewhere in between. That was an anomaly game. That just doesn't happen. We don't normally hit Nova well and he had to leave because of an injury, so there might have been something going on there.”
The 16 runs were the most by a major league team this season, the most by a Rays team since April 11, 2011 at Boston and one shy of the club record 17 they scored Sept. 5, 2007 against Baltimore … The 16-1 score tied the largest margin of victory in team history … The Rays have scored at least once in 10 of their last 13 innings after being shutout for 84 of their previous 104 innings … Longoria went 13 games and 49 at-bats between home runs after tying Peña for the club record on April 3 … Longoria's 26 home runs against the Yankees are the most in the majors since the start of the 2008 season …. Archer is the second pitcher in the last 30 years to win his first four career starts against the Yankees. Ervin Santana is the other … Myers is 6-for-9 with seven RBI in his last two games. He now has four home runs against the Yankees, his most against any team.