Riggans, Rays roll to rout of Yankees
Catcher enters in third, sparks attack with three-run double
NEW YORK -- Joe Maddon turned matters over to the kid with the "good face" in the third inning of Friday night's game, with 49,255 watching at Yankee Stadium.
Shawn Riggans impressed Maddon the first time the Rays manager saw the young catcher in the spring of 2006, prompting the compliment. On Friday night, the kid with the "good face" never looked better, as he emptied the bases with a pinch-hit double to right-center field to give the Rays a 5-0 lead in what turned into a 13-4 rout of the Yankees.
"That's great face right there," Maddon said.
Maddon called on Riggans after Dioner Navarro slipped in the dugout and cut the middle fingers on his throwing hand, which prompted the Rays to place him on the 15-day disabled list following the game.
"I had no time to think about it, it was in the game, Navvy was down," Riggans said. "Here we go, strap it on, get ready."
Riggans pumped his fist once he reached second base, which might be read more as a gesture that good fortune finally seemed headed his way rather than the injuries that have mounted in the past, such as the injury that required season-ending surgery on his right elbow in 2007.
"I was just happy the ball fell," Riggans said. "I was just excited, there's no other way to describe it. My heart was beating so fast. No words really to describe it. ... There's really no better way to write it up after the season I had last year was cut short by an injury. ... I'm just happy to be here and help the ballclub win games."
While Riggans struck the key blow, his Rays teammates did their part in mounting a 15-hit assault in the blowout victory over the Yankees.
Andy Sonnanstine started for the Rays and gave the team what it needed: some heady pitching with no panic -- even when the Yankees' offense brought the onset of what would have given most pitchers a major panic attack.
Hideki Matsui led off the Yankees' third with a home run that hit the right-field foul pole. Derek Jeter added an RBI triple, Alex Rodriguez had an RBI double and Jason Giambi hit an RBI double to cut the lead to 6-4.
Sonnanstine never seemed rattled, getting back to work in the three innings that followed to retire in order the final 10 hitters he faced -- including Bobby Abreu swinging at a wicked changeup.
"I was very happy about the way I came back tonight," Sonnanstine said. "That is a great lineup."
Maddon attributed Sonnanstine's one bad inning to his having to sit in the dugout while the Rays scored five runs in the third.
"That was the only inning he was up in the zone," Maddon said. "The rest of the time, he was down in the zone making good pitches.
"I really appreciated the way he did come back after that inning. A lot of guys fold after that point. He did not. Typical Sonnanstine, he is a tough guy. ... [He] made some nice adjustments and got us through six. A lot of credit for that win tonight goes to Sonnanstine."
Dan Wheeler added calm to the Rays' evening when he came on to pitch the seventh, retiring Jorge Posada, Matsui and Jose Molina on four pitches.
"I wish [it was that easy]," Wheeler said. "I just attack the zone and things went my way. ... Anything can happen with that lineup. That's a lineup of quality Major League hitters over there."
Rays hitters then stepped on the gas with a seven-run eighth, fueled by homers from Cliff Floyd and Carlos Pena to equal the final 13-4 score. The seven-run eighth tied the team's biggest inning at Yankee Stadium, which also came in the eighth inning of a July 22, 2000, game the Rays won, 12-4.
Trever Miller and Scott Dohmann pitched the final two innings without incident to preserve the win.
Bill Chastain is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.