Juan Soto crushes 3-run homer in Yankees’ series-opening win over Rays

NEW YORK — It took seven innings and two Rays errors for the Yankees’ offense to wake up on Friday, but the Bombers opened their homestand with a 5-3 win.

The biggest blast of the night came from Juan Soto, who demolished a three-run home run off Tampa Bay’s Chris Devenski, who pumped a fastball down the middle of the plate. The 409-foot, 110.9-mph shot traveled into the second deck.

As the ball flew, Soto watched it, threw his bat down and beat his chest while screaming toward the Yankee dugout.

Earlier in the seventh, the Rays had a 1-0 lead before a few mishaps in the field. Oswaldo Cabrera’s bat produced one and the tying run by bouncing a ball past Tampa first baseman Yandy Díaz. Anthony Volpe then gave the Yankees the lead with an RBI single before Soto smoked his fifth dinger as a Yankee.

Prior to that, the Yankees didn’t put up a fight against Rays starter Tyler Alexander, who entered the game with a 6.46 ERA. The southpaw cruised for 5 1/3 scoreless innings, tallying two hits, one walk and four strikeouts over 79 pitches.

Meanwhile, Clarke Schmidt cleaned up his command after allowing five walks on April 13 and three on April 6.

The righty didn’t issue any free passes on Friday while striking out seven over 5 1/3 innings of one-run ball. While Schmidt did surrender seven knocks and nine hard-hit balls — including a sixth-inning solo shot by Richie Palacios — he also threw a career-high 102 pitches while lowering his ERA to 3.15.

The Rays added two more runs in the eighth when Isaac Paredes singled off Ian Hamilton. However, the reliever managed to stop the bleeding. Clay Holmes then closed things out, though he battled traffic in the ninth. The Yankees caught a break, however, when they managed to get a force out at third after a fly ball dropped between Volpe, Gleyber Torres and Aaron Judge in shallow center field.

With the series-opener over, the Yankees will turn their attention to Zach Eflin, the Rays’ probable starter on Saturday. Nestor Cortes will take the ball for the Bombers — after the team honors John Sterling with a pregame ceremony.

Sterling, the Yankees’ radio voice since 1989, announced his retirement earlier this week.