Rays News

Tampa Bay Rays: Second Guessing Weather by Cash Pays Dividends

By Althea Pashman
Apr 22, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) is congratulated by manager Kevin Cash (16) after they beat the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Houston Astros 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2017; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; Tampa Bay Rays relief pitcher Austin Pruitt (50) is congratulated by manager Kevin Cash (16) after they beat the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field. Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Houston Astros 6-3. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports /
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A last minute decision to change starters before Tuesday’s game against the Orioles, paid off big time for the Tampa Bay Rays.

Informed via the Baltimore grounds crew, the National Weather service and a gut feeling of bad weather prompted Tampa Bay Rays manager Kevin Cash to make a last minute decision to scratch Erasmo Ramirez from his scheduled start.

With heavy rains scheduled, Cash decided Austin Pruitt would start in place of Ramirez, instead of losing him if the game would be delayed for an extended period of time. Pruitt, who had started throughout the minors (86 starts) but has been in the bullpen all season for the Rays, would make his first major league start.

The heavy rains never came, nor did a delay but for Pruitt and the four other relievers, Danny Farquhar, Jumbo Diaz, Chase Whitley and Alex Colome combined to throw six innings of shutout ball, allowing just two hits with nine strikeouts and two walks.

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Pruitt, who had been given a heads up from Cash that a last minute change could happen, gave the Ray’s three scoreless innings in which he allowed just one hit with a walk and three strikeouts. For Pruitt, this was his third consecutive appearance of not allowing a run after giving up at least one run in his first six games.

In his past 8.2 innings, Pruitt has allowed no runs on two hits, with two walks and 10 strikeouts and since April 10, he has lowered his ERA from a season high 19.29 to 6.38 while picking up wins in two consecutive appearances.

Although the Rays needed the bullpen for the game, they were able to save Ramirez who could be used for multiple innings and as well can come back with Danny Farquhar who worked just two-thirds of innings (12 pitches), Jumbo Diaz (three pitches) and closer Alex Colome who worked the final inning and picked up his fifth save.

“Obviously, the rain never came but it worked out in our favor,” Cash said. “All of the bullpen did a tremendous job of stepping up; Pruitt, Whitley, Farquhar, Jumbo, and, of course, Colome at the end.”

Pruitt who worked the first three innings throwing 54 pitches (32 for strikes) and Whitney who threw three innings and earned his first win of the season are probably unavailable for Wednesday’s game.

Entering the game, the bullpen on the road has not fared well, pitching to an ERA of 6.84, and with this six-inning outing lowered the ERA to a respectable 4.14.

In as much as the pitching highlighted the game, so was the hitting of Steven Souza Jr., who has been monster at the plate. Souza Jr. contributed with three hits, albeit all singles to raise his average to .349 and though he did not contribute in the scoring, he has now reached base safely in 12 consecutive games.

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Additionally, in his last nine games he is hitting .405 (15-for-37) and with his .349 average is now ranked fourth in the AL and 10th in the majors, has taken over the lead in hits in the AL with 29 and is second in the majors behind former Ray Wil Myers with 30.

On the season, he has been held hitless in just five of the 22 games, has recorded three three-hit games and has nine multi-hit games.

Joining Souza in the hitting department is Tim Beckham. His single in the fourth inning gave the Rays a 1-0 lead and with the hit extending his hitting streak to six games. Beckham is finally catching fire at the plate, as he has now hit in nine of his last 10 games (.342) to raise his average to .257 from a season low .125 back on April 10.

The win evened up the series at a one game apiece, the shutout was the first of the season for the Rays, and as well, it marked the first time that the Orioles had also been shutout. The Rays also drew seven walks for the second consecutive game, tying a season high, which they accomplished in Monday night’s game and on April 7 against Toronto.

Next: Rays Need a Team, Not a Collection Of Players

For the first time in 15 days, the Rays have an off day on Thursday. Their road trip continues north of the boarder on Friday when they open a three game series in Toronto.

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