- Andrew Marchand, ESPN Senior Writer
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NEW YORK -- The Yankees beat the Rays behind potential folk hero Zoilo Almonte, who made the first start of his major league career a dramatic one.
WHAT IT MEANS: The Yankees have a new starting outfielder. Almonte hit the ball -- and he will stay in the lineup until he stops.
Well, Almonte did his part to earn at least a start on Saturday and maybe many more days.
Leading off in the second, Almonte singled up the middle. In the fourth inning, the Rays loaded the bases, and on a fly out to left, Almonte made a nice throw home to prevent a runner from trying to score.
In the Yankees' two-run fourth, Almonte added his second single of the night.
And then, in the sixth, he hit a Zoilo shot. His first big league home run in the first start of his career went over the right-center field wall and inspired the crowd to its feet. They stayed there until Almonte came out for a curtain call, which doesn't happen that often in these parts anymore.
ZO MUCH HISTORY: Almonte, according to ESPN Stats and Info, became just the second player in Yankee history to have three hits and a homer within his first three games. Can you name the other? (Answer at the bottom)
BRIEF BIO:I'll be writing "Zo" much more about Almonte in the postgame. But here is a little info: Almonte is 24 years old and a switch-hitter. While further along in the minors, he has been considered a lesser prospect compared to Mason Williams and Tyler Austin. He was hitting .297 at Triple-A this season. He hit .277 in Double-A in 2012.
SOLD START: David Phelps wasn't great, but he was solid. He went 5 2/3 innings and allowed two runs, both earned. With Ivan Nova possibly starting on Sunday and Michael Pineda working his way, Phelps is fighting and clawing to remain in the rotation. He is doing a pretty good job of solidifying his position.
ON DECK: I will have more on Almonte, while Ian Begley will provide a postgame notebook.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Oscar Azocar in 1990.
QUESTION OF THE NIGHT: John Sterling, according to my friends on Twitter, said, "Curses, Zoiled again." I personally like either "Zoilo shot" for a homer with no one on base or "Zo far, Zo good." What would be your home run call?