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Yankees’ Pineda almost perfect in 8-1 win over Rays

/ 04:37 PM April 11, 2017
New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda throws during the second inning of the baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, Monday, April 10, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda throws during the second inning of the baseball game against the Tampa Bay Rays at Yankee Stadium, Monday, April 10, 2017, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

New York pitcher Michael Pineda retired the first 20 hitters he faced and struck out 11 Monday as the Yankees defeated the Tampa Bay Rays 8-1.

Pineda had a sellout crowd at Yankee Stadium on full alert as he powered through the Rays hitters, making effective use of off-speed pitches in an electrifying performance.

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He ended the fifth inning by striking out Logan Morrison, and fans were on their feet when he struck out Tim Beckham to end the sixth.

His first really difficult out came when Kevin Kiermaier flied out to left field for the second out of the center, when Yankees left fielder Brett Gardner sprinted toward the line to grab the ball.

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“When Gardy caught that ball, that’s the loudest I’ve heard it here in a long time,” said Yankees catcher Austin Romine, who had watched Pineda retire all 20 Rays to that point.

Pineda’s bid for a perfect game ended one batter later, when Evan Longoria lined Pineda’s 75th pitch of the night — a first-pitch slider — into left field for a clean double.

“You kind of know what he’s going to throw for the most part,” Longoria said. “You’re kind of guessing first-pitch fastball, first-pitch slider. Those are the only two that he was executing. I had just guessed slider on that pitch and he made a mistake. It was the one that he had left up.”

Pineda threw just 93 total pitches. He gave up one run on two hits in 7 2/3 innings and didn’t walk a batter.

His performance, backed by three Yankees home runs, was more than enough.

“The biggest thing was my location was really good today,” said Pineda, who first became aware of his no-hit bid after the fourth inning.

“Every inning, (I) focused on getting outs quick, hitter by hitter — focused on being aggressive,” added Pineda, who had lasted less than four innings against the Rays at Tampa Bay last week.

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