Referred to as the “Baby Bombers,” first baseman Greg Bird, right fielder Aaron Judge and catcher Gary Sanchez combined to go 4-for-38 (.105) during the teams’ season-opening, three-game set. The threesome of 24-year-olds struck out 10 times, totaled just two extra-base hits (both doubles, one by Bird, one by Judge), and only drove in a single run (by Judge).
Rays Opening Day starter Chris Archer surrendered one hit and a walk in 10 combined Baby Bombers plate appearances, giving up a double to Judge and issuing a free pass to Bird.
“I wouldn’t say I completely shut them down,” Archer said after the game about his Sunday success against the trio. “They’re good hitters, I had a good night, Derek Norris had a great game behind the plate, he was working his tail off.”
The Yankees offense became far less potent without Bird, Judge and Sanchez, making it far more manageable to take two of three from New York. Shutting down the young talents at that rate for 12 more games is a tall order, but containing them better than they have in the past would go a long way in keeping their head-to-head win percentage above .500.
Judge hit just .179 in his 20-game major-league debut last year, but went .313 (5-for-16) with two solo home runs in five games against Tampa Bay.
Sanchez faced the Rays nine times in 2016, batting .290 (9-for-31) with six home runs and 13 RBI.
Bird missed all last year with a right-shoulder injury, but hit .316 (6-for-19) with three home runs and six RBI in six games against the Rays in 2015.