Replacement players take center stage as the Rays and Rangers deal with the recent surge of injuries plaguing the clubhouse.
Rookie right-hander Yonny Chirinos has been a pleasant surprise for the Rays so far this season. After making the team straight out of camp, the 24-year-old started his rookie campaign by hurling 14 1/3 scoreless innings — the longest streak in franchise history by a Rays pitcher to begin his career.
The streak came to a halt in the first inning of Tuesday night’s 7-2 loss to the Texas Rangers. Chirinos, who finished with 5.2 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 3 K, 3 BB, gave up a four-pitch walk to Rangers lead-off batter Shin-Soo Choo. The Rangers’ right-fielder, who added his fourth home run of the season in the sixth inning, came around to score on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Adrian Beltre.
Despite loading the bases with nobody out, the Venezuelan right-hander limited Texas to just the one run in the first inning. The Rangers plated three runs in the fifth, however, after a 25-pitch inning from Chirinos.
“I tried to attack the hitters too early,” Chirinos said through his translator. “I think that got me into trouble a little bit. I can just learn from that and be ready to go for my next outing.”
After the game, manager Kevin Cash talked about the performance of his starter.
“I think it was lack of command,” Cash said of Chirinos’ outing. “He’s young, he’s allowed to have a little hiccup there. I thought he did a nice job battling up until about the fifth inning, or wherever, where pitch count got up and then they made some adjustments on him and got some big hits.”
Return of the Matt
Tuesday marked the return of Matt Moore (1-3; 5.59) to Tropicana Field. Its the first time he’s faced his former team since being dealt to the San Francisco Giants, in exchange for Matt Duffy, on August 1, 2016. The south-paw was shipped to Texas during this past offseason in exchange for a pair of minor-league pitching prospects — right-handers Sam Wolff and Israel Cruz.
During his six seasons in Tampa Bay, Moore posted a 39-28 record with a 3.88 ERA. Since his departure, he had managed just 12 wins over 43 starts. With his seven-inning effort on Tuesday, allowing only an unearned run, he looked more like the all-star version of himself from 2013 — picking up his first victory of the season.
“He got in a rhythm,” Cash said. “We let him kinda get in a rhythm, we put some pressure on him early, he made some big pitches to get out of innings — a couple double-plays that really favored him.”
The Rays manager was happy to see Moore pitching well, just not happy that it came against his team.
“Matt’s done this a long time,” Cash said of Moore. “He’s pitched well in this ballpark, there’s probably a comfort for him. He threw the ball well. It’s good to see other than the fact it came against us.”
One day after Mallex Smith paced the club with his second four-hit game of the year, shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria led the Rays’ effort with three hits of his own. The strong showing raised his batting average to .236 on the year.
RHP Hunter Wood, after being called up after Monday night’s game to replace Chih-Wei Hu, made his second big-league appearance. He made his MLB debut last season — also against the Rangers — on May 30, and retired the only batter he faced (Mazara). The Arkansas native faced six batters on Tuesday, surrendering two hits and striking out one.
Replacing Duffy at third base, Brandon Snyder (0-for-4) appeared in his first major league game since September 30, 2016. The Rays like versatility and Snyder provides that, having seen time at first base, third base, right field, left field, and DH. In fact, he even appeared behind the plate this season for Triple-A Durham.
In the ninth inning, Wilson Ramos picked up his first home run of the season. His last round-tripper was on September 29, 2017 against the New York Yankees. He’s now sporting a .220 batting average this season.
Wednesday afternoon’s rubber match between the Rays and Rangers features Cole Hamels (1-2; 4.50) against Jake Faria (0-1; 8.18). Faria will look to build on a solid start in his last outing. He allowed just one earned run in 5.2 innings while striking out seven against the Philadelphia Phillies on April 13.
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