Harold Ramirez homered and drove in a pair, and the Tampa Bay Rays used seven pitchers to hold the Pittsburgh Pirates to a single run, taking the opener of their three-game series 4-1 Tuesday at Tropicana Field.
Ramirez got the scoring started in the bottom of the fourth inning, as his RBI single off Pirates starter Roansy Contreras brought in Randy Arozarena, who had doubled to begin the inning and moved to third on a groundout by Brandon Lowe. He would then homer two innings later off Contreras to extend Tampa Bay’s lead from 3-1 to 4-1.
“On the first one, I was just looking for a good pitch to bring in the RBI,” Ramirez told Bally Sports Sun’s Tricia Whitaker after the game. “And on the homer, he threw me five sliders in a row. That [last] one was right in the middle [of the plate] and I took advantage.”
Manager Kevin Cash credited Ramirez making the right adjustments against Contreras after striking out in the second inning.
“For whatever reason, I thought he got out of his routine or what he was trying to do,” Cash said. “But he took a deep breath and then tcomes up [in the fourth]. He has two strikes on him and just shoots a ball to right, and then I’m not sure what the count was for the home run. Again, he’s doing it off a really good pitcher who’s throwing the ball well.”
Pittsburgh tied the game up in the top of the fifth when Ke’Bryan Hayes singled off Josh Fleming’s foot, forcing the left-handed out of the game. Bryan Reynolds then welcomed Colin Poche into the game by doubling under the glove of Isaac Paredes and into left field. Poche struck out Andrew McCutchen, but Carlos Santana’s fly ball to center turned out to be deep enough to bring in Hayes to tie the game up.
Contreras could not keep the game tied though, walking Manuel Margot to start the home half of the fifth and giving up a base hit to Jose Siri that fell in front of Jack Suwinski. Wander Franco broke the tie two batters later with a base hit, and he and Siri would then pull off a double steal with the latter swiping the plate to make it a 3-1 game.
At 24-6, Tampa Bay is just the fifth team in the expansion era (since 1961) to win 24 of its first 30 games of a season, joining the 1977 Dodgers (24-6), 1981 Athletics (24-6), 1984 Tigers (26-4), and 2016 Cubs (24-6).