The Tampa Bay Rays notched their first Grapefruit League win of the 2019 Spring season, walloping the Baltimore Orioles on Tuesday, 11-5. Kevin Kiermaier returned to the field for the first time in three games and had himself a day — hitting an opposite-field double and collecting an outfield assist — while Diego Castillo
Unlike his gaffe-filled first Spring appearance, Kiermaier made his mark in the first inning — gunning down Yusniel Diaz as he tried to go from first to third on a Rio Ruiz’s single.
In the second inning, Kiermaier ripped a double to left-center, and ultimately ended the day 1-for-3, having hit the ball to the opposite field twice.
Rays manager Kevin Cash told the media that he was pleased to see Kiermaier get back to his typically stellar defense after falling short in Friday’s spring opener.
Nice to have him back. He looked good, looked good on defense. He was frustrated the first time he played, so it was nice to see a big play he made, but we see that a lot.— Kevin Cash
Kiermaier said his focus going into Spring Training was taking pitches to all fields, which he did well on Tuesday.
I made a point this offseason, where I said, ‘I need to change some things. (Last season) was a great learning lesson for me. I’m not changing mechanically a whole lot. It’s a less-is-more type of approach now. …
It’s a point just to hit line drives and see the ball first and let your hands do the work from there. I’ve learned from my experiences so I think you’re going to see me using all fields more consistently, hopefully throughout the spring and the entire season, than I’ve ever made it a point my entire career. It’s all a mind-set first.— Kevin Kiermaier
The centerfielder expects to play the second of back-to-back games on Wednesday.
Emilio Pagan was stretched out to a second inning (and 30 pitches), having given up a pair of runs — one on a wild pitch and the second on a sacrifice fly.
Still, Pagan pitched better than his line may have indicated. He has been working on a curveball in camp and he had it working on Tuesday afternoon, picking up both of his called third strikeouts on breaking balls against southpaw hitters, which were an issue for him last season.
That was a good sign. Curveball was better today than it was the first outing, I was happy to see I got some bad takes on it.
I felt good. I probably could have kept going if I had to. For this early to feel that good physically, I’m happy about it.— Emilio Pagan
Diego Castillo put together a 1-2-3 sixth inning, coaxing three ground ball outs in his second outing of the Spring.
A lot of soft— Kevin Cash
contact. The three balls put in play were not hit very hard. That’s a good sign.
Down 4-1, Tampa Bay exploded for 10 runs against three Baltimore hurlers in the eighth inning.
Jesus Sanchez crushed a three-run home run to right-field (his first of the Spring), giving the Rays the go-ahead lead. Christian Arroyo followed with a solo shot to left-center.
Lucius Fox also collected a pair of hits in the frame while Nate Lowe added a two-run double. Outfielder Andrew Velazquez capped the inning with a run-scoring single, his second hit of the eighth.
The New What Next
The Rays will play host to the Boston Red Sox on Wednesday In Port Charlotte. Ricardo Pinto will get the start for Tampa Bay, pitching opposite of Josh Smith. Tyler Cloyd, Jake Faria, Ryne Stanek, Ian Gardeck, Hoby Milner, Matt Krook and Curtis Taylor are also scheduled to pitch.
Rays 2/27/19 Starting Lineup
- Diaz 3B
- Pham LF
- Lowe 1B
- Garcia RF
- Wendle 2B
- Kiermaier CF
- Robertson SS
- Zunino C
- Perez C
- Pinto RHP
— Tommy Pham, Ji-Man Choi, Joey Wendle, Kevin Kiermaier, Robertson, Mike Zunino and Michael Perez are also scheduled to be in the starting lineup Wednesday.
— Blake Snell is scheduled to pitch every fifth day until the end of the Spring, starting Thursday. Meanwhile, new acquisition Charlie Morton has also been eased into his Spring workload and will pitch on Friday against Baltimore.
The plan will be for them to pitch probably one inning during their first starts and then get built up as the Spring progresses.
I think the plan right now is five starts and get them built up, so that come Opening Day they’re basically right around that six (inning), 95-pitch or whatever pitch count. Sometimes we have to make adjustments to get them extra pitches or back down the workload, so it’ll be dependent on whether they pitch in games or simulated games that we provided for them in camp.— Kevin Cash
— Matt Duffy, who has been dealing with a slight left hamstring tweak, is nearing a return.
We’ve put a soft, soft date around Thursday for him. He’s champing at the bit to play, but so far everything has been good. He was smart at catching it at the right time, not trying to push it. It’s a minor thing, but knowing his history, we don’t want it to continue to flare up every time he runs hard.— Kevin Cash