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Rays Rally Falls Short To Drop Opener in DC

Rays pitcher Rich Hill
photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays

The Tampa Bay Rays spotted the Washington Nationals a 4-0 lead in the second inning and nearly came all the way back, falling 4-3 Tuesday night at Nationals Park.

Washington needed just three hitters to jump out to a 3-0 lead against Rays starter Rich Hill, as Kyle Schwarber again led off the game with a home run, and after a double by Trea Turner, Juan Soto blasted a two-time homer for some insurance.

Victor Robles made it 4-0 in the second when he connected for his first home run of 2021.  At the end of the second inning, Hill ended up taking out his frustrations on the bat rack before going up the the plate and dropping down a bunt single.

But left-hander settled down after the Robles homer, and ended up working through the sixth inning before being pinch-hit for.  After the game, he said he learned why he struggled at the start of the game.

Tampa Bay got on the board in the fifth when Brandon Lowe connected for his 16th home run of the season.

Kevin Kiermaier cut the deficit to 4-2 as his double with two out in the sixth plated Austin Meadows, who doubled earlier in the inning and took third on a Joey Wendle groundout.

Mike Zunino got Tampa Bay within a run in the ninth by hitting his 17th home run of the season off Nats closer Brad Hand, but Hand got pinch-hitter Manuel Margot to fly to center, Randy Arozarena to pop to center, and Yandy Diaz to line out to end the game.

Drew Rasmussen (0-1, 3.48 ERA) will open Wednesday’s finale, taking on Jon Lester (1-3, 4.99 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 4:10.

Written By

Steve Carney is the founder and publisher of St. Pete Nine. One of the people most associated with baseball coverage in Tampa Bay, he spent 13 seasons covering the Rays for flagship radio station WDAE, first as producer of Rays Radio broadcasts, then as beat reporter beginning in 2011. He likes new analytics and aged bourbon, and is the owner of one of the ugliest knuckleballs ever witnessed by baseball scouts.

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