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Tampa Bay Rays: A crucial 3rd inning, other thoughts after win

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ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 29: Starting pitcher Charlie Morton #50 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on March 29, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images)
ST. PETERSBURG, FL - MARCH 29: Starting pitcher Charlie Morton #50 of the Tampa Bay Rays throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Houston Astros at Tropicana Field on March 29, 2019 in St. Petersburg, Florida. (Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images) /
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The Tampa Bay Rays won their first game of 2019 behind an impressive showing by Charlie Morton and a crucial 3rd inning rally. Here are some thoughts after the   4-2 victory:

Tampa Bay Rays fans got to celebrate their first victory of 2019 behind an impressive start by newcomer Charlie Morton who emerged with his first win as a Rays pitcher.

A crucial 3rd inning:

Both teams did damage in the third inning with all fo the runs, oddly enough, coming with 2 outs.

Tony Kemp reached base to start the inning after getting hit by a pitch. Morton would sandwich a Jose Altuve walk with strikeouts of George Springer and Alex Bregman.

Micheal Brantley, who has gotten off to a hot start, doubled down the line scoring both Altuve and Kemp. Brantley was caught in a rundown trying to extend his double into a triple, but the damage had been done.

On to the bottom half of the third where Kevin Kiermaier would lead off the inning with an opposite field single. Willy Adames would line out to Josh Reddick in right bringing up Mike Zunino who would reach base on a throwing error.

After an Austin Meadows fly ball, Tommy Pham came to the plate and extended the inning with a 2 out, RBI single. Ji-Man Choi would loft an 0-2 off speed pitch into center scoring both Pham and Zunino giving the Rays a 3-2 lead  which they would hold for the remainder of the game.

Aside from Kiermaier’s leadoff single, all the damage was done with two outs and two strikes. The Rays kept the inning alive and drove in runners in scoring position, something they struggled  to do against Justin Verlander.

Morton impressive in Rays debut:

Charlie Morton was impressive over 5 strong innings in his Rays debut. He struck out 8, walked 2 and surrendered 2 runs. He took home the win and showed us just how devastating his fastball/curveball combination can be.

Morton threw 84 pitches, 54 of them for strikes. It was bound to be an emotional start for Morton, as he faced his former teammates, but it didn’t seem to faze Morton as he began the game with a strikeout of the ever-dangerous George Springer.

He did find himself in some deep counts, but the Astros are one of the best teams in baseball at working at-bats.

Overall, it was a nice debut for the 30M dollar man out of Bradenton.

Yandy Diaz’s homer…wow

Yandy Diaz turned around an upper 90’s fastball and deposited it just over the center field wall to give the Rays some insurance in the 6th inning. The missile off of Cole, which led off the bottom of the 6th inning extended the Rays lead to 2 runs.

The ball left his bat at 112.2 miles per hour and traveled 420 feet to dead center. According to Eduardo Encina of the Tampa Bay Times, at a launch angle of 17 degrees only 10 homers have left a major league stadium at a lesser angle while traveling at least 112 mph.

It was truly impressive and proof of just how strong the new Rays infielder really is.

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Today’s game starts at 6:10 PM with Tyler Glasnow on the bump. 

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