Arozarena turns Tropicana into Randy Land

by Gary Shelton on June 8, 2023

in general

Thursday, 4 a.m.

There are no lights too bright for him. There are no moments too big.

There he was again Wednesday night, soaking up the energy of Tropicana Field, preening and posing and flashing that million-dollar grin of his. Once again, Arozarena had seized the day, and with one swing of the bat, he had changed the afternoon.

He had rescued Jason Adam, who was falling apart. He had validated Isaac Parades and Taylor Walls, who had turned an athletic double play in the top of the ninth.

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Say this about the Trop. The fans who go there — and not just the ones in left field — love Randy Arozarena. He is playful, and he is smug, and he is one of the main ham-it-up players in the league. Ah, but he can play.

Consider Wednesday, when he drove Jhoan Duran’s second pitch into the right-field stands. Duran is a hard thrower, but for some reason, he started Arozarena off with two split-fingers, and the second one  disappeared.

“He’s got a knack for it,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “He’s a really good player and seems to elevate his game when we need it most. He was the right guy up there.”

That’s the recipe for the Rays — good pitching, good defense and timely hitting.

The Rays went through six pitchers Wednesday and were two outs away from a second consecutive shutout. Adam, however, struggled. He hit two batters, walked one and gave up the tying single to Royce Lewis.

He was bailed out of the inning by the defense, however. With the go-ahead run on third base, Ryan Jeffers hit a shot down the line. Third baseman Parades caught it and went to one knee. He threw to Walls, who made a twisting throw to first in time.

“The home run doesn’t matter without the double play,” Cash said.

The Rays had just six hits on the day — the runs were on homers by Parades and Arozarena — but held Minnesota to three hits. Cooper Criswell threw three innings of shutout baseball.

The Rays play Minnesota again today at 1:10 p.m. The Rays have not announced a starting pitching, but the Twins will go with Bailey Ober.

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