Make that 10 wins in a row at home, and 12 of their last 15 overall. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

The Tampa Bay Rays scratched across five early runs in the first two innings of Saturday’s contest against the Orioles, then continued to add to the lead as the game progressed. For the second straight day, the Rays scored double-digit runs as they won a 10th consecutive home game, beating Baltimore 10–5. Tampa Bay starts the day 13 games over .500 for the first time this season, eight games back of the Athletics in the Wildcard race, and just 1/2 game behind the Mariners who stand between the Rays and Oakland.

The Rays started their scoring in the opening frame after Mallex Smith reached on a two-base throwing error by third baseman Renato Nunez. Smith advanced to third on Joey Wendle’s fly-ball out to right before David Hess uncorked a Carly Rae Jepsen like wild pitch that bounded toward first base.

Next up was Tommy Pham, who tripled to right. Ji-Man Choi sacrificed Pham home on a fly-ball to center — putting the Rays up by two — before Kevin Kiermaier, Willy Adames and Jake Bauers hit back-to-back-to-back singles, plating the third run. With runners at the corners, Bauers broke for second with Brandon Lowe at the plate. Bauers pumped the brakes and stayed hung-up between first and second long enough for Adames to cross the plate, capping the scoring.

The weirdness continued in the second inning when Brandon Lowe hit a double off the B-Ring catwalk that fell back into fair play. Nick Ciuffo reached after being hit in the foot by a wayward slider. Then, with Lowe breaking from third on the pitch, Joey Wendle laid down a perfectly placed suicide bunt for the fifth run of the game.

Baltimore attempted a comeback effort, however, getting to within a pair of runs in the third inning. Ryan Yarbrough allowed a one-out walk to Cedric Mullins, and a bloop double to right to Joey Rickard. Jonathan Villar reached on an infield hit, as Mullins scored to make it a four-run game. Then in the fourth, Tim Beckham reached on a one-out infield hit, and Renato Nunez hit a two-run two-out homer to left, making it 5-3.

In the top of the fifth, Ciuffo both bailed out Adames and showed off his rocket of an arm. Rickard slapped a slow roller into the hole between third and short. Adames was able to make a backhanded stop, yet his throw was well wide of first. Ciuffo hustled down the line to back up the throw, corralled the ball in front of the dugout and nailed Rickard with a perfect throw as he attempted to move up to second.

All told, Yarbrough allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks across 3-2/3 innings of work, although he was able to pick up his 14th win of the season — the most in the Majors for a rookie.

Just really trying to find some rhythm out there, and falling behind some guys, so obviously not a recipe for success, said Yarbrough on his pitching performance. Obviously, you’ve got to focus on it a little bit and work on the bullpen and get after it. But yeah, I was just falling behind guys and trying to get some rhythm and it just kind of didn’t get there.

Nevertheless, Tampa Bay was able to push the lead back to four runs in the sixth inning. Adames doubled to left, chasing Hess, and Bauers sacrificed him to third against southpaw Tanner Scott. Adames scored when Scott uncorked the second wild pitch of the ballgame. After Duffy, Ciuffo, and Smith hit another triplet of singles, Wendle came up with a bases-loaded sacrifice-fly giving the Rays a four-run cushion.

Yet knowing that all teeters must totter, Baltimore made it 7-5 in the seventh inning on a two-run single by Villar. Be that as it may, Tampa Bay came right back with three more runs. Matt Duffy delivered a bases-loaded single to make it 9-5, while Smith capped the scoring with an RBI single of his own.

We’ve kind of got to the point where we really believe in ourselves, Duffy said. We feel like we are flying under the radar with some of those other teams in the American League, but we think we can beat anyone. We truly believe that and we carry that confidence with us every day.

At the end of the day, Tampa Bay collected double-digit hits and runs for the second consecutive day, although this time without the benefit of a homer. Eight Tampa Bay hurlers combined for the victory.

The New What Next

Ryne Stanek (2-3, 2.65 ERA) will open the series finale on Sunday, likely ahead of Yonny Chirinos (3-5, 3.76 ERA). They’ll be opposed by southpaw Josh Rogers (1-1, 4.35 ERA) who will take the mound in place of Alex Cobb, the former Ray that is dealing with a blister.

Stanek came out of the bullpen on Saturday to get one out. The right-hander has given up six of the 18 runs he’s allowed against Baltimore, while five of the six homers he’s given up came against the Orioles.

Chirinos put together another one of those spotty nights where he looked both terrible and terrific. His first inning was so bad, laboring through 25 pitches including back to back walks — and forcing Rays skipper Kevin Cash to get the bullpen warmed up early — then, with a refocused verve, zipped through the next six innings on just 47 pitches. When all was said and done, Chirinos threw seven innings of one-run ball, allowing just four hits, but three walks, on 72 efficient pitches (42 strikes, 58% strikes, 10.3 pitches per inning). The right-hander coaxed 12 ground balls, including three double plays.

Rogers was traded from New York in the Zach Britton deal. The left-hander gave up two runs across 5-1/3 innings at Seattle in a 2–1 defeat on September 3rd.

Rays 9/9/18 Starting Lineup

Smith LF
Pham DH
Duffy 3B
Cron 1B
Kiermaier CF
Adames SS
Lowe 2B
Gomez RF
Sucre C
Stanek RHP

You can read about the series in our preview.

The New What Next: Rays vs Orioles — one last series preview

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