After scoring a combined four runs over the previous four contests, the Tampa Bay Rays offense finally broke out on Saturday en route to a 7-6 win over the Orioles.
At 36-29 on the season, the Rays enter play seven games over .500 with one last game on their current road trip.
Baltimore struck first in the second inning, stringing together three consecutive hits for a 2-0 lead thanks, in part, to a Robinson Chirinos double.
Yet, Tampa Bay answered in the top of the third against Kyle Bradish, predictably so I might add, scoring four runs — two on a Manuel Margot double, and two more on a two-base hit by Harold Ramirez. Ramirez was tagged out at third, on an ugly headfirst slide into the bag, trying to stretch his double into a triple. It made for another out on the base paths for an MLB-leading 31, yet you could hardly blame Harold for being that aggressive.
The Rays knocked Bradish out of the game in the fifth inning, thanks to the dynamic duo that is Yandy Diaz and Ji-Man Choi. Diaz doubled to left-center before Choi homered to right-center on a center-cut 88 mph changeup. The ever prescient Brian Anderson called the shot, “Middle of the plate…that spot has plagued him (Bradish) all season long,” a split second before Choi sent the Orioles hurler back to the dugout.
Yet, Baltimore bounced back and knocked Springs out of the contest in their half of the frame, collecting three runs to make it a one-run affair. Ryan Mountcastle singled to left to put the Orioles back by three. Matt Wisler entered and quickly got one out, although he followed that with a pair of soft hits and a walk. Unfortunately, the last hit was a two-RBI knock by Chirinos allowing Baltimore to pull within a run, consequently knocking Wisler out of the game. After nine appearances (10.1 innings) of scoreless ball, Wisler allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and a walk. Jason Adam got the last out of the frame.
Ryan Thompson would have had a perfect sixth if not for a two-out Taylor Walls error followed by a walk and an Anthony Santander single, which tied the contest. Thompson closed the sixth by striking out Tyler Nevin. It was a Jekyll and Hyde type of inning for Thompson, who attacked the zone against the first two batters (Rougned Odor and Austin Hays), putting them down on eight pitches — seven strikes and one ball. Yet, he looked defeated after the error and regressed back to his most recent self, walking Mountcastle on five pitches (only one strike) and allowing the hit to Santander on six pitches. He has now allowed 16 runs (14 earned) in his last 14 appearances.
Shawn Armstrong put up a 1-2-3 seventh before giving way to Calvin Faucher and Colin Poche as the Rays retired the final 10 Oriole hitters.
Meanwhile, the Rays took the lead for good in the ninth inning. Diaz started the rally with a one-out walk against Dillon Tate, while Choi singled to left, his second hit of the day. Randy Arozarena was hit for the third time in less than a week, loading the bases. Ramirez capped the scoring on a sacrifice fly to right, putting Tampa Bay in front.
As mentioned above, Poche worked a 1-2-3 ninth for his fourth save of the season. With the exception of an errant high-and-tight fastball, Poche was impressive, throwing 11 of 14 pitches for strikes (79% strike rate) and coaxing three swings and misses (21% SwStr%). The icing on the cake: his fastball touched the 94-96 mph range 12 times, good for a season-high velocity of 94.7 mph.
All told, the Rays collected 14 hits — four by Mejia — while Ramirez drove in three runs. More of that, please.
The New What Next
Corey Kluber (3-3, 3.50 ERA) will get the start in the series finale, pitching opposite Austin Voth (0-0, 9.41 ERA).
Corey Kluber got the start Tuesday against the Yankees and allowed two unearned runs on four hits, a hit batsman, and a walk while striking out three across six innings. Kluber held the Yankees hitless through the first three frames, yet a pair of Tampa Bay errors led to his unearned runs in the fourth inning. The veteran has had two strong outings against the Yankees this season, allowing just one earned run across 12 innings. Over his last six starts, Kluber has a 2.53 ERA and a 3.59 FIP, with a 6.75 K/BB in 32 innings. On the season, Kluber is 2-0 with a 2.35 ERA in two starts against the Orioles.
Austin Voth has made three appearances out of the ‘pen since being claimed off waivers by Baltimore on June 7, but he’ll start Sunday’s contest after Jordan Lyles (undisclosed) was a late scratch. Voth hasn’t thrown more than two innings or 38 pitches in an appearance this season, so he’s unlikely to pitch deep into the contest. Voth relies primarily on a 94 mph four-seam fastball, a 78 mph curveball that has sweeping glove-side movement and sharp downward bite, and a 90 mph worm-killer cutter that has some natural sink and strong cutting action. Voth is 0-0 with a 1.50 ERA in two career outings (one start) against the Rays. Key Matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (1-3, 3B), Harold Ramirez (1-2, 2B)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 6/19/20 Starting Lineup
- Kiermiar CF
- Margot LF
- Diaz 3B
- Choi 1B
- Arozarena DH
- Mejia C
- Phillips RF
- Brujan 2B
- Walls SS
— SS Wander Franco went 1-4 with a triple as the DH in an FCL contest on Saturday. Franco will play shortstop on Monday in a game to be pitched opposite by Chris Sale, who also is rehabbing, and if all goes well then Franco will join Durham to continue his rehab assignment. He could return by next weekend in the home series against the Pirates.