The Tampa Bay Rays added another win this spring against the Minnesota Twins to improve their record to 10-9-1. The game featured a little bit of everything as an established starter, a rotation hopeful, and a prospect all managed to make an impact.
The Rays got out to a lead early as their projected Opening Day starting catcher, Rene Rivera, hit a towering solo home run to center in the first inning for first run of the game. Then, behind the plate, Rivera caught young starter Matt Andriese, who proceeded to have a superb outing. Andriese tossed 5 scoreless innings allowing only 3 hits and a walk while striking out 6. Andriese earned praise for his fastball, cutter, and changeup as he shut the Twins down.
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Bats on both sides would fall silent for a while as Twins starter Kyle Gibson settled down and pitched six strong innings in his own right. Kennys Vargas would hit a solo home run off Jeff Beliveau to tie the game at 1, but then the Rays bullpen showed dominant of his own the remainder of the game. Brandon Gomes came in to relieve Beliveau and kept the game tied going into the seventh. He then came out and pitched a scoreless seventh as well, striking out 2 along the way.
C.J. Riefenhauser would pitch a pivotal eighth inning and it didn’t get off to a great start as he allowed a leadoff single to Aaron Hicks. However, he managed to escape without giving up a run and subsequently earned the win in relief. In the top of the ninth, infield prospect Leonardo Reginatto hustled down the line for an RBI infield single to give the Rays the lead. Steve Geltz struck out 2 in the ninth for his first save of the spring as the Rays won the game 2-1.
Many within the Rays organization are hoping Rene Rivera can provide some power to a lineup badly in need of it. Today’s mighty blast reminded us that he has the ability to provide it. Meanwhile, Desmond Jennings continues to impress with a strong spring, going 2 for 3 in today’s game. The Rays offense hasn’t always shined bright, but the team has managed to score runs when needed and allowed their exceptional bullpen close out games.
The most exciting player of all, though, was Matt Andriese. His 1.10 ERA in 16.1 innings this spring reflects his overall body of work, but he hadn’t struck out more batters than he had walked a single time entering this game. This contest was Andriese finally showing everyone that does have a chance to be a reliable major league pitcher right now. The Rays could do far worse for an emergency starter in the first week or two of the season.
The Rays will take on the New York Yankees at 1:05 PM tomorrow in a game that will be broadcast on Sun Sports and RaysBaseball.com.