Baz sharp in winning his first start for Rays

by Gary Shelton on September 21, 2021

in general

Diaz had a three-run homer to lead Rays./CHUCK MULLER

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

The younger, the better.

Who cares how innocent the kids on the farm are. At this rate, the Rays might want to look into promoting a talented 15-year-old. Raw, talented and hard-throwing -- that's the recipe.

The Rays -- who seem to be building a pitching rotation for the future -- tapped into tomorrow once again Monday night, following rookie pitcher Shane Baz to a 6 -4 victory over Toronto. Baz, in his first start, out-dueled Toronto's Robbie Ray for his first victory.

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Couple Baz with Shane McClanahan, Drew Rasmussen and Luis Patino, and you have the core of a good young pitching staff next year --- and perhaps in this year's playoffs.

Baz retired 15 of 17 batters he faced, going five innings of two-hit baseball. Both of those hits were solo home runs, but Baz made his presence felt.

"You’re not going to see many more impressive outings against Toronto’s lineup," Ray' manager Kevin Cash said.  "He got clipped for two solo homers, but except for that, he really did nice job of navigating. He threw strikes, he used his power, he used his breaking ball. We saw the curveball and slider be pretty elite-looking pitches to an elite group of hitters. He was awesome. Fun to watch."

Baz said the result of the evening was a feeling that, yes, he belongs.

“It was like a dream-come-true type thing," Baz said. "I was trying to keep my composure and remember the plan and execute. I was happy I was aggressive, not trying to pitch around people and making them earn everything."

The Rays had a decent offense against Ray, who has bedeviled them this season. Yandy Diaz had three hits, including a three-run homer in the fifth. Kevin Kiermaier also had three hits, although he was reckless on the basepaths. He ran past a (late) stop sign and was out at third once, got picked off first another time, and was doubled off second when he didn't retouch third base as he retreated.

The Rays struggled in the ninth. Reliever David Robertson allowed two earned runs without getting an out, and J.T. Chargois left the bases loaded. That brought in Dietrich Enns, who struck out Breyvic Valera to end the game. Enns went 3-0 to Valera, then got a favorable call on one close pitch and a foul ball on another before Valera took a called strike three to end the game.

“I can't say I’ve had a game where there was this much on the line," Enns said. "I’m happy Cash and Snydes (pitching coach Kyle Snyder) had the confidence in me to go into that spot and perform. I’m really happy to be in there."

The Rays will play the Blue Jays again tonight at 7:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Drew Rasmussen will start for the Rays against Alek Manoah of Toronto.

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