The Tampa Bay Rays beat the Philadelphia Phillies 1-0 on Tuesday night in historic fashion. It was the first ever Interleague game in history that ended 1-0 with the only run coming from a home run by the American League pitcher. Nate Karns threw 5 shutout innings en route to the win and also homered in his first at bat, which would be all the runs the Rays would need.
Phillies top prospect Aaron Nola made his major league debut. He was sharp, throwing 6 solid innings while striking out 6 and only walking one hitter. His lone mistake was allowing a home run to Nate Karns. Karns became only the second pitcher in Rays history to homer in a game. Steve Geltz and Xavier Cedeno got through the sixth inning before Jake McGee, Kevin Jepsen, and Brad Boxberger each threw a scoreless inning each to preserve the win.
Nate Karns obviously came up with the big night while John Jaso had the only multi-hit game on the night for the Rays. Karns finished with 5 innings allowing no runs on 3 hits, striking out 4 while walking 2. You can quibble about Kevin Cash pulling him in several of his starts, but this wasn’t one of those. He found several times as line drives ended up in Kevin Kiermaier‘s glove or just foul.
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Speaking of Kiermaier, he put on a show defensively once again. An absolute laser of a throw gunned down Cody Asche at third in the bottom of the second and a nice diving grab in the fifth also proved to be huge defensive plays. On the former play, Asche was around two-thirds of the way between second and third before Kiermaier’s throw was as impressive as you will ever see. The Phillies apparently haven’t gotten the memo that you don’t run on Kiermaier. Rene Rivera also threw a baserunner trying to steal in the sixth while James Loney started a heads-up double play on a slow roller to end the fourth.
Editor Robbie Knopf and myself attended this game and Citizens Bank Park is definitely one of the more underrated parks I’ve been to. This was a bit of a miraculous game for the Rays between Karns’ homer and all of the luck on line drives, but it was great to see the bullpen look sharp behind Karns, with Jake McGee allowing the only 2 baserunners in the relief corps’ 4 innings but finding a way to work around them. There was some luck involved in this Rays win, but it was great to see some things go their way for once and hopefully their confidence is building.