Rays’ Mejia again powers team to win

by Gary Shelton on April 10, 2022

in general

Kittredge got his first save of the season./JEFFREY S. KING

Sunday, 4 a.m.

Two games in, and the Tampa Bay Rays are trying to figure out their magic number.

Two games in, and the bullpen is singing. Two games in, and Francisco Mejia is a star. Two games in, and the Rays are hoping that the Baltimore Orioles can stick around for a while.

Two games in, and Kevin Cash seems to be having a lot of fun.

The Rays won again Saturday, beating the Baltimore Orioles 5-3. It improved the team's record to 2-0 (the Rays beat Baltimore 19 times last season). It was a win that checked a lot of boxes for Tampa Bay.

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-- This time, the Rays scored in ways other than the sacrifice fly (two of them helped the Rays beat the Orioles 2-1 on Opening day). Mejia drove in three runs with a home run and an RBI single.

-- This time, rookie Josh Lowe joined the party. He had a triple and a single.

-- Josh Fleming took over for starter Drew Rasmussen in the fifth and pitched 3 1/3 innings of three-hit baseball for the win. Andrew Kittredge got the save.

-- Three relievers gave up one run for the Rays.

"If I recall, (Mejia) got off to a pretty good start last year," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "He has picked us up. He got on top of a fastball, a pretty well-located pitch, and he drove it out of the ballpark."

Cash praised the athleticism of Fleming.

"Today is the best I’ve felt with the curve ball," Fleming said. "The Jazzy, I like to call it.  I was just really able to step on it and look for what I've been looking for all spring."

Rasmussen had a decent start, but gave up a two-run homer to Ryan Mountcastle.

“If we don’t give up a walk, I'm happier," Rasmussen said. "The walk is the part that frustrated me. Homers are going to happen. Good hitters put good swings even on good pitches. If we can limit the walks ... that would be the only thing I could complain about now."

The Rays go for the sweep today at 1:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Corey Kluber will make his debut for the Rays against the Orioles' Tyler Wells.

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