Five Rays hurlers combined for the third consecutive shutout, while Brandon Lowe provided some late thump, as Tampa Bay rolled to its 10th consecutive win on Monday, 1-0.
Jalen Beeks opened for Josh Fleming, and made quick work of the Red Sox in the first inning, sitting down all three hitters on just 10 pitches. In the second, Beeks allowed a leadoff single to Masataka Yoshida but nothing else — striking out Rob Refsnyder, while coaxing fly-ball outs from Alex Verdugo and Christian Arroyo. All told, Beeks surrendered one hit and walked none across two innings of work. He struck out two on 27 pitches (18 strikes, 67% strike rate).
Fleming took over in the top of the third, looking to bounce back from a rough first start on the season. The left-hander came out of the gates strong, striking out Triston Casas, getting Connor Wong to ground out, and striking out Kiké Hernandez to retire the side. In the following frame, Fleming put down Boston’s hitters in order on 10 pitches before he worked around a Christian Arroyo two-out, line drive single to right in the fifth — ultimately stranding the runner when he forced a line out from Casas to end the frame. In his final inning of work, Fleming struck out two batters in another 1-2-3 frame. All told he allowed just one hit and walked none on 47 pitches (31 strikes, 66% strike rate) with five punchouts.
Red Sox starter Nick Pivetta was also pretty damn good, limiting the Rays to five total base runners on three hits (including a Luke Raley double) and two walks across six strong innings with six strikeouts. And, unfortunately, Josh Winckowski, Pivetta’s replacement, was equally as sharp, retiring Tampa Bay in order to send this game into the seventh inning.
Things got interesting in the bottom of the seventh, lending the impression that the Rays could break through. Isaac Paredes hit a one-out infield single, leading to the more fleet of foot, Vidal Bruján, to enter the contest as a pinch-runner. But, Bruján was thrown out at second when Manuel Margot grounded into a fielder’s choice, while the inning came to pass after Christian Bethancourt grounded out — moving this scoreless game on into the eighth inning…with more potential run-scoring drama.
Colin Poche, who has a penchant for almost falling apart, entered the game in the top of the inning. After walking Alex Verdugo, Poche came back to force a flyball out from Christian Arroyo. Nevertheless, pinch-hitter Bobby Dalbec singled before Conner Wong lashed a 102 mph line out for the second out. Even though it went down as an out, it was far from comforting. Hernandez earned a base-loading walk for Devers…who watched a low fastball cross the plate for strike three, pouring ice-cold water all over the threat.
Chris Martin was brought in to work the home half of the eighth and quickly got Yandy Díaz to pop out on the second pitch he saw. Brandon Lowe was next, yet he quickly fell behind 0-2. Even so, Lowe was able to work the count full and see seven more pitches. On the 10th pitch of the at-bat, the infielder returned the pitch — a 96 mph fastball — 404 feet into the stands, breaking up the shutout, and giving the non-Massholes the go-ahead lead.
Finally, big Pete Fairbanks worked a perfect ninth, freezing Justin Turner on a center-cut 99 mph fastball before getting the next two hitters to ground out. Fairbanks earned his (and the team’s) first save of the season, and grabbing the 10th Rays win of the season.
With the win, the Rays surpassed the 2003 Royals (9-0) to claim the longest season-opening winning streak in MLB’s Wild Card era and became the seventh team in AL/NL history to begin a season with at least 10 consecutive wins. The rest of the exclusive club includes the 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers, ‘62 Pirates, ‘66 Indians, ‘81 Athletics, ‘82 Braves and ‘87 Brewers, with the last two clubs sharing the record with 13 straight victories to begin the year, writes Adam Berry (MLB.com)
They’re doing something that hasn’t been done in quite some time. We should be proud of that. The good thing about this club is they win, they enjoy it and they move on. They’re ready to go the next day.— Kevin Cash
The New What Next
Shane McClanahan (2-0, 1.50 ERA, 2.59 FIP) will get the start in the second game of the four-game series, pitching opposite Garrett Whitlock (in 2022, 4-2, 3.45 ERA, 3.34 FIP).
Shane McClanahan allowed two earned runs on five hits and four walks while striking out six across six innings in Washington on Wednesday. The left-hander made his outing more difficult early on by walking a batter in each of the first three frames, although he escaped those jams having allowed only one run. He then surrendered an additional run in the fourth inning after allowing four consecutive batters to reach base. Despite some shakiness, the bottom line turned out fine for McClanahan, and he backed his six strikeouts with 14 swinging strikes across 94 pitches (15% SwStr). Through two starts, he owns a 1.50 ERA and a 2.59 FIP, with a 1.17 WHIP with a 2.4 K/BB across 12 innings. In five starts against Boston, McClanahan is 3-1 with a 2.45 ERA.
Garrett Whitlock allowed one earned run on one hit and one walk while striking out eight and walking one across six innings during a rehab outing with Double-A Portland on Thursday. The hurler was recovering from surgery on his hip that he underwent last September. He was sharp in two rehab appearances, completing 10 innings while allowing just two earned runs and punching out 14 between Boston’s two highest minor-league affiliates. Last season, Whitlock put up a 3.45 ERA and a 3.34 FIP, with a 1.02 WHIP, and a 5.47 K/BB. He relies primarily on a swing-and-miss 94 mph sinker and an 85 mph changeup that has obvious arm-side fade, while also mixing in a whiffy 80 mph slider. In six games (one start) against the Rays, Whitlock is 1-1 with a 3.00 ERA.
You can read about the series in our preview, and the starting lineup is below.
Rays 4/11/23 Starting Lineup
- Díaz 1B
- B. Lowe DH
- Arozarena LF
- Franco SS
- Raley RF
- Paredes 3B
- Mejía C
- J. Lowe CF
- Bruján 2B