Pruitt’s big start leads the Rays to a shutout victory

by Gary Shelton on August 31, 2019 · 0 comments

in general

Pruitt allowed only four hits in the Rays' win./JEFFREY S. KING

Saturday, 4 a.m.

With other pitchers blowing up around him, with the pitching mound turning into a minefield, whoever would have expected this?

Austin Pruitt. Star.

Pruitt, the Rays' up-and-down reliever, entered the game with a 5.57 ERA. He hadn't started a game in two seasons. In a crucial game against Cleveland, he didn't figure to last long.

But he did.

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Garcia knocked in the winning run./JEFFREY S. KING

Pruitt went 5.1 innings, and he allowed just four hits as the Rays beat Cleveland 4-0 to close the wild card race in the American League. Three other pitchers followed Pruitt with excellent baseball as the Rays notched their ninth shutout of the year.

"He was outstanding for us," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "He limited their

Aguilar scores after his three-run homer./JEFFREY S. KING

offense. Not a lot of hard-hit balls by either team early-on, but Austin had everything going. Kyle goes down and checks pitches in between innings and he said he located the ball really, really well. Kept guys off balance and got us deep. We were pretty much fried from yesterday with the bullpen and how much we had to go to guys. Really impressed with Austin’s effort and helped us out in a big way.”

Sogard tries to make a throw to first./JEFFREY S. KING

Said Pruitt: “I was very pleased. I was a little more pleased knowing that our bullpen got gutted in that Houston series so I was more happy to step up and kind of get some of those guys a break. I wanted to go out there and give it everything I’ve got. More so for the bullpen. Those guys down there, anytime that I’ve been up and down, this is a great group of guys that welcome me in each time.”

The Rays scored all four of their runs in the seventh inning, including a go-ahead single by Avi Garcia.

“It was big," Cash said. "He hasn’t done what Avi’s done all year since he’s come back from the IL. The other day he had a couple hustle, ground ball infield singles. That’s not him. For him to stay on, lay off a couple tough pitches, put himself in a 3-2 situation where he stays on a ball and finds a hole passed a diving Lindor was big. The fireworks kind of came after that, but Avi’s at-bats were really good.”

Garcia was happy to come through.

“It was a big at-bat," Garcia said. "I was just trying to focus and not try to do too much. Late in the game, he got me twice, so just trying to be more focused

Austin Meadows scores the winning run./JEFFREY S. KING

and  trying to help my team. The win is  big. I think it’s big. I think every game counts. We’re just going to come here tomorrow and have the same mindset, trying to do our best to win every single game. Let’s see what happens tomorrow.”

After it was 1-0, Jesus Aguilar iced the game with a three-run homer against his former teammates.

“He’s been working really hard," Cash said. "They’ve been grinding in that cage a little bit, trying to get him in a position where he feels a little less tied up, locked up. Credit him for putting the work in. It’s nice to see it come. I’m sure there was some extra motivation playing a team that he came from. Big hit to give us some separation that we didn’t have to go 1-0 and use everybody in the bullpen.”

Aguilar enjoyed the home run.

 “It was a great feeling," he said. "The most important thing is that we won today. Now we’ve got two more to go. I think this is the most important series of the year. We’ve got to show what we’ve got. I think we’re in a really good spot right now.

“The most important thing is to try to have fun out there. Try to do things the right way. That’s what we did last year. Here we can do it too. I think we’re in a really good spot. We’ve got a month to go, so I think a lot of good things are going to happen.”

The Rays will play the Indians again today at 6:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. They'll start Diego Castillo (2-8) against Zach Plesac (7-4).

Adames dives for a ball for the Rays./JEFFREY S. KING





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