Rays back in first-place tie: ‘It feels really, really good’

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays performed practically 100 video games this season whereas claiming sole possession of first place within the American League East standings. They let the Orioles spend solely sooner or later alone on the high.

Starter Zach Eflin bounced again from his worst begin of the season by pitching seven excellent innings, shutting down the Orioles’ lineup and snapping the Rays’ five-game shedding streak with a 3-0 win on Friday evening earlier than a crowd of 19,703 at Tropicana Subject.

“It feels actually, actually good. Actually good. We had fun postgame within the clubhouse,” Eflin mentioned. “It is one thing that we did for a very very long time to start the yr, so it is good to get again to that and luxuriate in one another and have enjoyable. We’ll take that momentum into tomorrow and simply hold having enjoyable.”

Eflin allowed 5 runs in three innings towards the Royals on Sunday as he battled his mechanics all through an outing that made him wish to “flush it down the bathroom and transfer on to the subsequent one.” And transfer on he did, placing collectively one among his greatest begins in a Rays uniform to drag Tampa Bay (61-40) back even in the standings with Baltimore (59-38).

It was the form of victory the Rays wanted after dropping 12 of their first 15 video games in July. They gave Eflin an early lead, as Brandon Lowe doubled and scored on a second-inning single by Harold Ramírez, then added large solo pictures from their two main residence run hitters this season: Isaac Walls and Jose Siri.

“At this level, I feel we’ll take any win that we might get,” Rays supervisor Kevin Money mentioned. “Hopefully, that will get some momentum and will get the bats some momentum going into the remainder of the sequence.”

Eflin insisted there was nothing totally different about this outing, however there was one key similarity: He might inform how it will play out throughout his pregame bullpen session. His supply felt off within the Kauffman Stadium bullpen, and that adopted him into the sport. He felt robust warming up on Friday evening, and his efficiency mirrored that.

“It is as simple as flushing it, in my thoughts,” mentioned Eflin, who improved to 11-5 with a 3.36 ERA and 0.99 WHIP on the season, tied for the Main League lead and matching his profession excessive in wins. “I do not like overthinking issues. I do not like overanalyzing issues. So for me, it was simply flush it down the bathroom and transfer on.”

Eflin allowed solely two hits and one stroll whereas putting out eight. He confronted 24 batters and ran up a three-ball depend towards solely two of them, needing solely 87 pitches (63 strikes) to get by means of the outing.

Every of his first 5 strikeouts got here on sinkers that had been known as for strikes, then he racked up three extra swinging strikeouts on his four-seam fastball, curveball and sinker to punctuate his outing.

“He didn’t depart an entire lot of balls within the center a part of the plate for us,” Orioles supervisor Brandon Hyde mentioned. “We simply had a troublesome time getting something going towards him.”

Eflin credited catcher Christian Bethancourt for his game-calling behind the plate and mentioned his sinker was “lastly” working. It had been weeks since he had that degree of command of the pitch, Eflin mentioned, particularly inside to left-handed hitters.

It got here again on Friday and helped neutralize Baltimore’s lineup as Tampa Bay recorded its tenth shutout of the season.

“Did not seem to be he missed a location all evening lengthy,” Money mentioned. “If you do this along with his stuff, you are going to give your self a very good likelihood to have success, and that was an enormous, large begin for us.”

Not that Eflin wanted any extra run help, however the Rays tacked on a pair of homers for his or her forty third multihomer sport of the season.

Paredes, who hit a double to the deepest a part of the park in heart area within the fourth inning, blasted his 18th residence run of the yr out to left-center off Orioles starter Kyle Bradish within the sixth. Identified for pulling all of his homers since becoming a member of the Rays, Paredes heard about his near-miss earlier than returning to his favourite vacation spot.

“All of the coaches had been telling me that I haven’t got pop to heart area. That is why they are saying to drag the ball,” Paredes mentioned, smiling, by means of interpreter Manny Navarro. “In order that’s why it was good that I used to be in a position to pull that residence run.”

Siri tacked on his team-leading twentieth homer within the seventh, launching a first-pitch, 99.4 mph fastball from Shintaro Fujinami out to left area and, as ordinary, watching it fly.

“It feels good to have the ability to get a sport like this, particularly after what we have been going by means of,” Siri mentioned by means of Navarro. “Particularly as a result of they’re a group that is in our division and we’re each battling for first place.”

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Printed : 2023-07-22 02:43:00

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