Bullpen leads the Rays to another victory

by Gary Shelton on April 1, 2019 · 6 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Kiermaier congratulated after his home run./CHUCK MULLER

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

Who says a team needs a great starting rotation?

For the Tampa Bay Rays, a successful start has starred a strong bullpen,

Kiermaier is hitting .333 so far this season./CHUCK MULLER

which once again was impressive in a 7-1 victory over the Colorado Rockies.

In five games, the bullpen has thrown 21 innings and has allowed just one earned run. That came Monday night against Ryan Yarbrough, who was good enough to get the victory in a 4 1/3 inning performance. The bullpen has a 0.43 era on the season.

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Choi celebrates one of his two hits./CHUCK MULLER

Overall, the Rays have won as many games in their first five outings this season as they did in 17 games last season.

The Rays were led offensively by Kevin Kiermaier, who had a three-run homer and  knocked in four runs, and Brandon Lowe, whose two-run homer was his first hit of the season.

Stanek got the start for the Rays./CHUCK MULLER

Tampa Bay won behind its opener strategy, using six pitchers and giving up just one run. Cash was impressed with Yarbrough.

“He mixed really well and he had a pretty electric cutter that he was able to get in on the righties," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "He threw the ball well and made big pitches. He kept them off balance just enough, but the cutter was probably the impressive pitch that I recognized from the side tonight.”

Lowe's home run came after an 0-for-10 start for the season.

Lowe had his first hit of the season./CHUCK MULLER

“I’m sure it was good, but Brandon is so even-keeled with his emotions you don’t know up or down very often," Cash said. "But it —has to be good to get the first one out of the way. Obviously, it came at a crucial time — oppo (opposite field), fastball that he got and drove out. We talk about all the time he hits the ball the other way like some of the big right handers that we see. It was good for him and Willy (Adames) to get some knocks today.”

Kiermaier had a homer, a double and a sacrifice fly.

“He’s doing a lot of things to help us," Cash said. "I’m not too concerned

Pham ran his on-base streak to 37 games./CHUCK MULLER

about him proving himself. I think he’s already proven himself as a Major League player, and a really good one. I understand that he’s missed some time and he wants to get in there and impact the club which is a good thing. Tonight for him to separate the game was crucial.”

Yarbrough hopes the good start leads to a good season.

“It was good. Hopefully it’s something as a team one of many. We are playing some really good baseball and having a lot of fun out there. For me to get out there and continue to build my innings like that and go deeper in the games, hopefully I continue to do that and go deeper next time.”

A nosebleed couldn't stop Yarbrough.

Castillo finished off the Rockies in the ninth./CHUCK MULLER

“That was the weirdest experience I’ve ever had," Yarbrough said. "I probably looked like an idiot. My phone was blowing up with my buddies texting me stupidity so I can’t wait to go over those texts. It was something weird. A nose-bleed out of nowhere and I had to deal with. Thank God (Head Athletic Trainer) Joe Benge was right on top of it to keep me dry out there.”

Kiermaier likes the start that the Rays have gotten off to.

“It’s awesome," he said. "We sit here and talk in spring training about how good we can be. This is the start that we wanted to get to. You have to start with the pitching though. Other than the first game, credit to Houston for

Perez throws out Garrett Hampson on a bunt attempt./CHUCK MULLER

outscoring us there, but holding these quality teams to one run these last four games, unbelievable job on their part.

"All credit to them. They trust us to go out there and score more runs than the other team. I keep saying, ‘guys, I promise you. If you hold these opponents to one run or less, we will win a lot of games.’ Easier said than done, but it’s not surprising me. They gave us a taste of what they can do last year collectively as an unit. They have been out here carrying this team so far and making our job offensively pretty darn easy so far. It’s a beautiful thing and it’s fun playing behind these guys.”

The Rays play Colorado again tonight at 7:10 p.m. Blake Snell will start against the Rockies' Kyle Freeland.

Yarbrough gave up a run, but he got the win./CHUCK MULLER


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