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Rays Use Solo Homers To Hold Off Pirates, Finish Sweep

photo: Tampa Bay Rays/Instagram

Zach Eflin tossed seven shutout innings, and the Tampa Bay Rays used three solo homers to eventually hold off the Pittsburgh Pirates 3-2 and finish off a three-game sweep of the National League Central leaders Thursday at Tropicana Field.

Eflin worked efficiently in his outing, needing just 80 pitches to record the first 21 outs of the game, allowing just three hits and striking out a season-high ten to improve to 4-0 on the season.

Taylor Walls got Tampa Bay on the board in the second, connecting on a Vince Velasquez offering and sending it into the seats in right for his fifth home run of the season.

Velasquez would finish the third inning, but be replaced for the start of the fourth after telling Pirates manager Derek Shelton that he was experiencing right elbow discomfort.  His replacement, Jose Hernandez would allow the Rays to double their lead as Randy Arozarena welcomed him by blasting his eighth homer of the year.

The game would stay 2-0 until the bottom of the eighth, when Yandy Diaz made it 3-0 by matching Arozarena with his eighth home run of 2023.

Ryan Thompson followed Eflin with a scoreless top of the eighth, but Jason Adam’s ninth inning got messy thanks to an error by Walls that led to a pair of unearned runs scoring on a two-out double by Carlos Santana.  Adam would eventually strike out Connor Joe with the tying and go-ahead runs on base to end the game and earn his second save of the series and season.

The win gets Tampa Bay to 26-6 on the season, and they become the fastest team to get to 20 games over .500 since the 1984 Detroit Tigers, who reached the threshold in just 28 games.

The New York Yankees come to town to begin a three-game weekend series Friday, with Yonny Chirinos (1-0, 0.64 ERA) starting against Jhony Brito (2-3, 5.56 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 6:40.

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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