ST. PETERSBURG — Ladies and gentlemen, say hello to your first place Tampa Bay Rays.
The Tampa Bay Rays sealed a series win over the Houston Astros with a 3-1 victory over the Astros in front of a youthfully exuberant crowd at Tropicana Field on Sunday Afternoon.
Yonny Chirinos made a compelling case to be a bonafide starter after throwing seven innings of two-hit ball, allowing just one earned run — a solo shot by Jake Marisnick in the third — on two hits. He struck out six and walked none to pick up the win.
Granted it is only the first week of the season but the series win against the reigning American League West division champions left the Rays in sole possession of first place in the AL East.
Austin Meadows provided all the offense Chirinos would need on Sunday. Tampa Bay got the scoring started early after Yandy Diaz and Tommy Pham started off the game with consecutive line-drive singles. Daniel Robertson grounded into a fielder’s choice to leave two men in scoring position for Meadows who delivered a line-drive single to right to put the first run on the board.
Marisnick’s solo shot would tie the game at one through three but the Rays would pull ahead in the bottom of the frame thanks to Meadows. Avisail Garcia, who also doubled in the game, reached on a fielder’s choice to set the table for Meadows who connected on a hanging breaking ball from Houston starter Wade Miley that cleared the wall in straightaway centerfield for a two-run bomb. Meadows finished his day 2-for-4 with three driven in.
That would be enough for the Tampa Bay relief crew who shut down the potent Astros lineup through the final two innings, including the first career save for Diego Castillo.
Guillermo Heredia finished the day 2-for-3 in his first start of the year for Tampa Bay.
Rays add Slegers in Trade with Pirates
The Rays added Aaron Slegers in a cash deal with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. The 6-foot-10 righty was designated for assignment by Pittsburgh last week after failing to crack the Pirates’ rotation out of spring training.
Slegers, who was named the Minnesota Twins Minor League itcher of the Year in 2017, had a 5.90 ERA in limited duty at the big league level over the last two seasons but could be an ideal candidate to break out after getting the opportunity to work with Rays’ pitching coach Kyle Gibson, who has a track record of getting consistency out of taller pitchers.
The 26-year-old Slegers, who still has two minor league options remaining, will start the season with Triple-A Durham.
The Rays will welcome the Colorado Rockies to Tropicana Field for an early season-season, interleague series starting at 7:10 p.m. on Monday. The Rays will reintroduce the “opener” strategy with Ryne Stanek taking the hill to start off. Chad Bettis will start for Colorado.
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