The Rays have taken the first two games of the season against the Baltimore Orioles, and will look to complete the opening series sweep today. Corey Kluber takes the mound, making his Rays debut against Tyler Wells.
Kluber’s very first batter was Cedric Mullins, and Kluber struck him out to get his regular season started on a good note. After a single and a walk, Kluber escaped the inning without allowing a run.
Wander Franco singled with one out in the bottom of the first, and with Randy Arozarena at the plate, stole second. Unfortunately, Arozarena struck out and Choi grounded out to end the inning.
Kluber allowed a one-out walk to Austin Hays in the top of the second, but Mike Zunino threw Hays out on an attempted steal of the second base. Kluber struck out Jorge Mateo to end the inning.
Yandy Diaz led off the bottom of the second with a full-count walk, and moved up to second when Josh Lowe walked behind him. Harold Ramirez singled, loading them up for Mike Zunino. Z hit a long and loud sacrifice fly to score the game’s first run and move Lowe up to third. Josh Lowe scored on a Manuel Margot groundout, leaving one runner on for Brandon Lowe.
Brandon Lowe crushed the fifth pitch he saw, doubling the score and chasing Wells out of the game. Lowe’s home run went 437 feet, leaving his bat at 109 mph and landing in the right field seats.
Kluber worked a scoreless third inning, allowing just a single to Cedric Mullins. The Rays offense also hit a single in the bottom of the third, but also did not score in the inning.
Despite a leadoff walk, Kluber threw a 14-pitch fourth inning which included his fourth strikeout of the afternoon. Harold Ramirez hit a leadoff double in the bottom of the fourth, but was picked off trying to steal third with one out in the inning.
After recording two outs in the top of the fifth, Corey Kluber walked Cedric Mullins and allowed a single to Ryan Mountcastle, putting runners on the corners but also ending his outing. Kluber threw 87 pitches, striking out five, walking four and allowing three hits. His line stayed at zero runs allowed after Jeffrey Springs entered and stranded the runners.
Wander Franco hit a one-out double in the bottom of the fifth, and Ji-Man Choi walked with two outs, but both runners were stranded on a Yandy Diaz groundout.
Jason Adam entered in the top of the sixth and worked an impressive 1-2-3 inning which included a strikeout. The Rays offense also went down 1-2-3 in the bottom of the sixth.
Jalen Beeks took the mound in the top of the seventh, making his first appearance since getting injured in 2020 and requiring Tommy John surgery. Beeks looked shaky at first, allowing a double and a walk, but after a mound visit from Kyle Snyder, Beeks got the next three batters out, striking out two.
The offense wasn’t content with a four-run lead, and looked to extend that lead in the bottom of the seventh. Manuel Margot led things off with a single, and that resulted in Baltimore bringing in reliever Paul Fry, who owns a career 10.45 ERA against the Rays (34.71 in 9 games against the Rays last season!).
Fry allowed a single to Brandon Lowe, and another one to Wander Franco, scoring both Margot and Lowe to make it 6-0. Randy grounded out, moving Wander to second, and Wander scored from second on a Ji-Man Choi double, making it 7-0.
Choi moved up to third on a wild pitch, Yandy Diaz walked, and Harold Ramirez scored Choi with a two-out single. Zunino flew out to end the inning, but the Rays increased their lead to 8-0 and once again hit Fry like it was batting practice.
Beeks stayed in for the top of the eighth, striking out one but allowing a double right after. After striking out Kelvin Gutierrez, Kevin Cash signaled to the bullpen, bringing Matt Wisler in. Beeks threw 37 pitches, struck out four, walked one and allowed two hits in his first game back from TJS. Wisler struck out Rougned Odor to end the inning.
A quiet bottom of the eighth brought Matt Wisler back out to try and close this one out. Wisler struck out Jorge Mateo with one out in the inning, allowed a single to Robinson Chorines, and secured the win with a strikeout of pinch-hitter DJ Stewart.
The Rays sweep the season’s opening series, and Corey Kluber having a solid start was a big part of it. A scoreless 4.2 innings of work made it easy for the offense to not have to fight from behind, and that offense held up their end of the bargain with eight runs.
The Rays stay home for their next series, welcoming the Oakland Athletics to Tropicana Field for a four-game series. Luis Patiño makes his first start of the season tomorrow night against A’s right-hander Paul Blackburn, first pitch is scheduled for 6:40 pm.