Hidden weapon helps Rays to fifth straight

by Gary Shelton on July 10, 2021

in general

Kittredge can show up anytime./JEFFREY S. KING

Saturday, 4 a.m.

By now, you know what to expect from Andrew Kittredge. You just don't know when.

He is the Rays' hidden-card trick. You could see him early in the game, or you could see him late. You could see him in the middle.

He is Captain Anytime. And to the opposition, he always looks like trouble.

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Take Friday night, fir instance. This time, it was the fifth inning when the Rays pointed to Kittredge, and immediately, he shut down the big bats of the Toronto Blue Jays. The Rays went on to win 7-1, their fifth straight victory.

For Kittredge, it was business as usual. This season, he has pitched in every inning -- from the first to the 11th -- and for most of it, he has been very good. Kittriedge has a 6-1 record and a 1.47 ERA. Half of his appearances have been for four innings or more. Ten of his last 11 outings have been scoreless.

"I just go down there (to the bullpen) in the first and wait for the phone to ring and say my name," Kittredge said. "I don't try to put too much thought in it. I just try to be ready when they call down for me."

Kittredge understands why he wasn't more successful as a starter in years' past.

"I don’t need a lot of time to get ready," he said. "Most relievers are failed starters. Part of the reason I wasn’t good as at starting is I had too much time to think. I think it works out good for me not knowing when I’m going to pitch so I don't have too much time to think about it. "

Said Rays' manager Kevin Cash: "His pitch efficiency and pitch quality are clicking at the same time. His velo is up to 95-96. He's throwing some wicked sliders that guys can't lay off of and you can't hit even if you do make contact. He's good in whatever role. To have a guy like him who can pitch multi-innings and pretty pretty dominant while they're doing it helps shape a bullpen and bring it together. You can make the argument he's been as valuable as any pitcher sitting down there."

After Shane McClanahan went four innings (four hits and five walks as he gave up one earned run), Kittredge, Jeffrey Springs and J.P. Feyereisen all shut out the Blue Jays.

The Rays, meanwhile, got three RBI from Ji-Man Choi and two each from Austin Meadows and Taylor Walls.

The Ray have now won five straight games.

“We wanted to finish strong going into the break," Cash said.
"We played a very good first half. We have two games left, but you have to feel better about where we are than, say, a week or ten days ago."

The Rays play Toronto today at 1:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Ryan Yarbrough will pitch for the Rays against Ross Stripling of the Blue Jays.

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