Bullpen shuts down Orioles to preserve win

by Gary Shelton on June 13, 2021

in general

Castillo earned his 11th save./TIM WIRT

Sunday, 4 a.m.

Now that they have the best record in baseball, and now that they are higher above .500 than at any point this season, it's time to ask the question.

Who's the best of the best?

It is a discussion that should start at the tail end of another Rays' victory, a 5-4 squeaker over the Baltimore Orioles where, once again, the bullpen dominated. They made a 5-4 lead hold up for the final 4 1/3 inning as they shut down the Orioles on two hits and no runs.

But who was the star?

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Was it Collin McHugh, who got the win? McHugh went two innings and struck out five of the six outs he recorded. Since returning from the 10-day injured list on May 4, McHugh has pitched to a 0.50 ERA with 10 hits, 6 walks and 31 strikeouts in 11 appearances. His last five appearances have been scoreless.

"He’s nasty," said Rays' outfielder Kevin Kiermaier. "I’ve known that for a while now. I hated facing him back in the day. He can go out there for an inning or two, or four or five. I get excited every time he takes the mound. It wasn’t fun hitting off him."

Was it Diego Castillo, who recorded his 11th save? Castillo has allowed one earned run in his last six appearances.

Was it Ryan Thompson? Thompson pitched to only one batter Saturday, but it was the seventh straight scoreless appearance. He has a 1.93 ERA.

Was it Pete Fairbanks? He went through the eighth inning quickly with no hits. He's made 14 appearances and allowed just one run since returning from the injured list.

Note: J.P. Feyereisen, Jeffery Springs, Andrew Kittredge and newly acquired Matt Wisler did not pitch Saturday.

"It’s a blessing to have the pitchers we do, the bullpen we do," Kiermaier said. "In a one-rnn game. it’s difficult to score off those guys. Anytime we have a lead, we like our chances. Our bullpen shut the door."

Said Rays' manager Kevin Cash: "We had no margin of error. The bullpen played a vital role. McHugh has a great feel for the slider right now. He's throwing over the plate early. That slider looks like a frisbee going up there. You can’t give up on it and it expands and goes out of the zone.'

Rich Hill started and cruised for four innings. But in the fifth, he gave up two walks and a grand slam to .150 hitter Austin Wynns.

The Rays had to scratch for their own runs. They scored three in the first after two walks, a double barely down the third base line and infield hits by Manuel Margot and Kiermaier. In the fourth, they scored two more when Brandon Lowe's single bound over the head of left fielder Ryan Mountcastle.

The Rays now have 41 wins, the most in the majors.

They play the Orioles again today at 1:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. The Rays will start Michael Wacha against Bruce Zimmermann.

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