Chirinos sharp again as Rays shut out Giants

by Gary Shelton on April 8, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Chirinos is off to an impressive start./JEFFREY S. KING

Monday, 4 a.m.

This "opener" strategy for the Tampa Bay Rays is so new, there is one unanswered question to it.

Can a pitcher throw so well that he makes the front office rethink it?

Yonny Chirinos certainly seems as if he wants to see if he can graduate from his status. Chirinos pitched his second impressive game of the season Sunday, shutting down the Giants with five shutout innings in a 3-0 Rays' win. The Rays are now 7-3 on the season, and they've won all three series they've played so far.

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Kevin Kiermaier scored two of the Rays' runs./STEVEN MUNCIE

A big piece of it has been Chirinos, designated as one of the team's openers. In two games, Chirinos has thrown 12 innings, given up just one run and four hits and has 11 strikeouts. A season ago, Chirinos was just 5-5 with a 3.51 ERA.

Rays' manager Kevin Cash again said the team would prefer to keep Chirinos in his current role rather than alter plans.

"He’s going to pitch," Cash said. "He’s going to pitch a lot. We like and our team appreciates the flexibility we have with Yarbs (Ryan Yarbrough), (Jalen) Beeks and Yonny. And Wilmer Font. I wouldn’t commit one way or the other.

"Yonny has been impressive, that’s for sure. He's a young pitcher who had some ups and downs last year. We think really, really highly of him. He looks like he has a lot of confidence to him. He made a big, big pitch to strike out someone (Brandon Belt) to end the fourth. These are great situations for him to continue to develop in and get that confidence and get better."

The Rays jumped on the Giants with Yandy Diaz's third home run of the season. Later, they added runs when Christian Arroyo singled in Kevin Kiermaier. Kiermaier also scored on a balk after a triple.

The Rays' shutout -- including the fourth save by Jose Alvarado -- including a bit of sleight of hand in the bottom of the seventh. Adam Kolarek was on the mound when Evan Longoria came to the plate. Cash pulled Kolarek and moved him to first base in order to let Roe pitch to Longoria (he struck him out).

"I told (Kolarek) to just stand over there and don't do anything," Cash said.

The Rays now move to Chicago to face the White Sox in today's game. The first pitch is scheduled for 2:10 p.m.

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