The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 4-1 this afternoon to improve to 8-3-2 this spring, which is the best record in the Grapefruit League.
The Rays plated all four runs in the bottom of the third off of Pirates pitcher Jeanmar Gomez, who went just 2.1 innings, and allowed eight hits, along with those four runs, and struck out and walked a batter each.
Matt Moore took the start for Tampa Bay, and pitched 3.1 innings of two hit ball, walking three, striking out three and did not allow a run to cross the plate. Moore threw 34 of his 69 pitches for strikes, and got his fastball up to 92-94 MPH. He had some control issues, but he was able to work around them and look good after a rough start to the game. The first three innings were smooth and seamless, but after sitting for a long bottom half, when the Rays burst for their four runs, he walked the first two batters, before being pulled after a groundout.
Heath Bell, Juan Sandoval and Adam Liberatore all combined for 5.2 innings of four-hit, one-run ball to close out the game. The four-pitcher effort lowered the Rays’ spring ERA to an MLB-leading 2.82.
Ben Zobrist and Yunel Escobar each knocked RBI-singles in the third inning, with Zobrist’s hit scoring Ryan Hanigan and Brandon Guyer, and Escobar pushed across the aforementioned Zobrist and David DeJesus.
After the game, the Rays announced that they were sending down Kirby Yates, C.J. Riefenhauser, Kevin Kiermaier, Hak-Ju Lee, Vince Belnome, Nate Karns and Jeff Beliveau to the minor league camp, and reassigned Mikie Mahtook to reduce the big league camp roster to 44.
Tomorrow, the Rays are right back at it, in a match-up with the Atlanta Braves, the first time since 2008 the two clubs will face each other in spring training. Chris Archer will take the bump for Tampa Bay, while the Bravos will put their trust in David Hale. First pitch is set for 1:05 p.m., and will only be available through Gameday Audio.