Fleming leaves the Rays with a warm feeling

by Gary Shelton on April 20, 2021

in general

Kiermaier knocked in two runs in the victory./JEFFREY S. KING

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Maybe the answer wasn't in the arms they brought in in the off-season.

Maybe the answer to the Rays' rotation problems was here all along.

For the second straight start, 24-year-old right-hander Josh Fleming was terrific for the Tampa Bay Rays Tuesday night. Fleming threw 5 2/3 innings of shutout baseball, allowing only two hits, in a 4-1 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

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It was the fourth straight victory for the Rays, now second in the AL East. During that span, the Rays have allowed just eight runs.

Fleming, who grew. up in nearby Bridgeton, Missouri, has now given up just one run in 10.1 innings this year.

"He’s nasty," said Rays' outfielder Kevin Kiermaier, who drove in two of his team's runs. "He’s so efficient when he’s out there. He’s  gross out there. I've faced him before and it’s not fun by any means. He's so crafty. It’s hard to believe he doesn’t have a year of experience. He pitches like he’s been around for years and years. He’ll be around for many years to come. Hes  dominating. He’s the man."

Fleming said he relied on his change-up and his sinker in the game.

"I think my change-up was the best it's felt in the time I’ve been up here," Fleming said. "That and the sinker. I know when those two pitches are working, I’m going to get a lot of ground balls."

Said manager Kevin Cash: “I can’t explain how he does that. The sinker --   you can tell from the side when it’s really going. Sometimes, it looks like a breaking ball, it’s dropping so much in there. It really messes with hitters. It looks like a very hittable. For the most part, it is hittable. It's just hard to do anything with."

The game was played in the cold and the wind -- snow is forecast for Kansas City today. That might have contributed to three errors by the Royals. Regardless, the Rays seem to have found something after losing three of four to Texas.

“This is a confident club," Cash said. "Winning helps bring that confidence out more and more. The way we bounced back from what we all would acknowneldge was a pretty tough series at home speaks most about the club. They recognize we got beat, but we’re still a good club. If we take care of our business, we should be in a lot of games and in position to be in a lot of games."

The Rays play against Kansas City tonight at Kaufman Stadium at 8:10 p.m. The Rays will start Rich Hill against the Royals' Brad Keller.

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