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Rude Homecoming For Rays As Orioles Take Opener

Rays OF Randy Arozarena flips his bat after homering off Steven Matz of the Blue Jays
photo: Will Vragovic/Tampa Bay Rays

The Baltimore Orioles used timely hitting early and strong pitching from rookie Spenser Watkins to spoil the return of the Tampa Bay Rays to Tropicana Field for the second half of the season with a 6-1 decision Monday.

Baltimore used three consecutive two-strike hits to get on the board before the first out of the game was recorded by Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough, as singles by Austin Hays and Trey Mancini were followed by an RBI double by Ryan Mountcastle.  Anthomy Santander’s sacrifice fly would be the first out of the contest, but also doubled the deficit.

Yarbrough would settle down after the first inning, but Tampa Bay’s bats would have no answer for Watkins.  The rookie allowed just three hits — all singles — while putting up zeroes in the first five innings.

Baltimore would crack the game open in the sixth, with Santander working a 12-pitch walk from Yarbrough to start the inning, and Ramon Urias following up with a single.  Pedro Severino struck out, and Ryan McKenna grounded out, but Pat Valaika singled to center to plate both runners to make it 4-0.  Kelvin Gutierrez‘s RBI single brought in Valaika for a 5-0 lead and ended Yarbrough’s night, though Matt Wisler allowed the inherited runner to come across as Hays’ double made the deficit six runs.

The Rays only run of the night came in the bottom of the sixth, with Austin meadows drawing a two-out walk and scoring on a double by Randy Arozarena.

Tampa Bay also lost both catcher Mike Zunino and designated hitter Yandy Diaz to injury in the contest, with Zunino leaving with left hip flexor tightness in the fourth, and Diaz experiencing neck spasms and being pinch-hit for in the sixth.

The Rays drop back to a game and a half behind the Boston Red Sox for the lead in the American League East.  They will look to even their series with the Orioles Tuesday night when Shane McClanahan (3-3, 4.05 ERA) takes on John Means (4-2, 2.28 ERA).  First pitch is scheduled for 7:10.

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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