Rays might have found a starting pitcher

by Gary Shelton on August 18, 2021

in general

Rays' Zunino now has 26 homers / CHUCK MULLER

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Funny thing about a starting pitcher. Sometimes, you had the best ones on your team the whole time.

Just as the Tampa Bay Rays, who have to feel giddy over the work they have seen so far from Drew Rasmussen.

Rasmussen, acquired in the Willy Adames trade, was sharp once again in Tuesday night;s 10-0 mashing of the Baltimore Orioles. Rasmussen went four innings and allowed just one hit in the 10-0 win.

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In his last two starts, Rasmussen has thrown eight strong innings and allowed just two hits and one run. With starters Michael Wacha and Ryan Yarbrough struggling, Rasmussen's addition to the rotation could be welcomed, although Rasmussen still likes the roles of both a starter and a reliever.

"There's a benefit to both," Rasmussen said. "In the pen, you have a chance to influence the game every single day. As a starter, you can try to take some pressure off the bullpen guys. I'm happy with either role."

Rasmussen combined with Adam Conley (one inning) and Chris Ellis (four innings and the win) to get the shutout. But the Rays weren't just relying on their pitching.

Tampa Bay scored 10 runs, including two home runs by Nelson Cruz and one by Mike Zunino. Both players now have 26 homers.

Since Cruz has joined the Rays, Tampa Bay is averaging 6.5 runs per game. But Rays' manager Kevin Cash talks about the influence of Cruz in the dugout.

“You see it every day," Cash said. "Even the days he’s not contributed with the big at-bat or the big moment. You have guys like that in our league. You know where they’re at. You know the positive effect it has on everyone hitting in front of him. He has added and thickened us up a lot. "

Zunino now has home runs in five straight games. His 26 homers are a career high.

The Rays play the Orioles again tonight (7:10 p.m.) at Tropicana Field. Louis Head will open for the Rays against Spenser Watkins.

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