The Tampa Bay took an early lead in the first inning on Monday, lost the advantage, but then took it right back. After the 6-3 win over the Baltimore Orioles, the Rays find themselves in the midst of a three-game winning streak to start the month of July.
Ryne Stanek opened the game and quickly got Jonathan Villar to line out on the first pitch of the game, yet he allowed the next two batters to reach base. Stanek was able to retire Dwight Smith Jr. on a fly-ball out to right — which allowed a runner to tag and move up to third — and 3B Renato Núñez on a strikeout to end the inning without incurring any real damage. From there, the right-hander put together a perfect second inning, setting the table for bulk guy Ryan Yarbrough and the Rays offense.
Tampa Bay took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first against Tom Eshelman, who was making his big league debut. Austin Meadows led off the game with a single to center before Brandon Lowe walked. Yandy Diaz reached base on a 6-4 fielder’s choice, putting runners on the corners with one out. Ji-Man Choi and Avisail Garcia came through with a pair of RBI base hits, giving Tampa Bay a two-run advantage. Kevin Kiermaier followed with a hard-hit single to center, loading the bases. However, Willy Adames grounded into a 3-2 fielder’s choice before Brendan McKay, in his first MLB at-bat, grounded out to first to end the threat. From that point on, Eshelman retired 12 of the next 14 batters to get through five innings.
After a scoreless third, Baltimore got on the board in the fourth inning against Yarbrough. The southpaw allowed a leadoff walk to Smith while Núñez hit a bloop single to right, putting runners on the corners with none out. Pedro Severino hit a grounder to first, with Núñez advancing the second, while Hanser Alberto looped an RBI single to center, cutting the Rays lead in half. Yarbrough was able to limit damage though, striking out Keon Broxton and getting Richie Martin to fly to center.
The left-hander battled through three innings, allowing four hits and walking two while striking out three.
In the top of the sixth, and as if on cue, Chaz Roe gave up a double to Núñez, who moved up to third on a wild pitch. Severino rolled a single through the shift to right, tying the game at two. He was also able to move into scoring position on a slow grounder to second off the bat of Alberto. Be that as it may, Roe punched out, Broxton the final batter he’d face. When Brandon Hyled beckoned the left-handed hitting pinch-hitter, Rio Ruiz, Kevin Cash called on loogy Adam Kolarek.
Kolarek had allowed just two of 21 previous inherited runners to score, yet Ruiz singled against the defense to left. Austin Meadows came up throwing, yet his corresponding throw was late, allowing Severino scored as Ruiz advanced into second. However, Lowe helped limit the damage when he made a diving catch on Villar’s liner, ending the inning.
Trailing by one in the home half of the sixth, Tampa Bay immediately answered against reliever Branden Kline. Choi walked and Garcia singled to left-center, putting two on with none out. Kiermaier was next. He worked a 3-1 count before The Outlaw blasted a 98 mph fastball, out over the heart of the plate, 417 feet to center field.
It was Kiermaier’s 10th homer this season. The rally put Kolarek on the right side of the ledger, even though he allowed a go-ahead hit.
They weren’t done; the Rays tacked on an insurance run in the seventh inning against Miguel Castro. Diaz walked and swiped second before Choi ripped an RBI single through the left side.
The Rays bullpen was able to hold Baltimore in check over the final three frames, as Oliver Drake worked a scoreless seventh, Emilio Pagan hurled a perfect eighth, and Jose Alvarado fanned a pair in ninth for the save.
The New What Next
All-Star Charlie Morton (8-2, 2.43 ERA) will take the mound for the Rays, pitching opposite of Asher Wojciechowski (0-0, 0.00 ERA).
Charlie Morton surrendered five runs (three earned) on eight hits and a walk while striking out seven across 6-1/3 innings in his last start. Despite allowing a season high in hits, Morton only allowed singles. The right-hander had no problem missing bats, and he looked sharp overall against a potent Twins lineup. The 35-year-old right-hander maintains an All-Star worthy 2.43 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, and a 3.53 K/BB on the season. Morton is 1-2 with a 4.41 ERA in four career starts against the Orioles.
Asher Wojciechowski will make his first big league appearance since 2017 after being acquired from Cleveland for cash considerations. Wojciechowski was 8-2 in 15 starts for Triple-A Columbus this season with a 3.61 ERA. Key Matchup: Tommy Pham (2-5, 2B, RBI)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.
Rays 7/2/19 Starting Lineup
- Meadows DH
- Lowe 2B
- Pham LF
- Choi 1B
- Garcia RF
- Kiermaier CF
- Adames SS
- Wendle 3B
- Zunino C