Brad Keller was ‘cruising.’
The Royals starter needed just 63 pitches to get through the first 5 innings, and though the Rays offense hit a few screamers, they hadn’t scored a run since the 1st.
Keller needed 22 pitches to get through the 6th, however, and a Brandon Lowe double put the Rays within a run.
But manager Ned Yost stuck with his pitcher into the 7th, when Mike Zunino, fresh from the paternity list, delivered the devastating blow off of a fatigued Keller:
Mike Zunino hits his 1st home run with the @RaysBaseball one day after returning from having his first child. #RaysUp #MLB— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) April 23, 2019
Catch the @RaysBaseball this year on FOX Sports Sun l FOX Sports Go pic.twitter.com/97ENvgQ499
It was a memorable moment for Zunino, perhaps the most memorable:
#Rays Mike Zunino on where tonight's home run ranks in his career: "That has to be number one."— Juan Toribio (@juanctoribio) April 23, 2019
Here’s what our colleagues at Royals Review had to say about Yost’s decision to keep Keller in the game into the 7th:
Sending Keller out for the seventh, manager Ned Yost had shown earlier this season he wouldn’t hesitate to stretch him out in the late innings. Knowing how poor the bullpen has performed in close situations through the first 22 games of 2019, the decision to proceed with Keller didn’t come as too much of a shock. However, perhaps staying in one batter too long, Mike Zunino crushed a two-run homer to dead center, giving the Rays their first lead of the night.
- Travis Sawchik, How the Rays Are Surprising Baseball Again: No need to get too deep into this one, but just know it’s a must read
- TWIRB podcast: Brian Kenny rejoins Neil Solondz to chat about the Rays early season success:
- Juan Toribio talks to Zunino about his memorable home run
- The power rankings are in! The Rays hold the No. 2 spot in Jonah Keri’s ‘The 30’ but drop to No. 3 on mlb dot com
- The Athletic two-fer ($): Tommy Rancel talks about what went wrong for the Rays bullpen over the weekend, and Josh Tolentino documents the Rays’ intensity after a tough series against Boston
- The Tampa Bay Times ($): John Romano talks about the Rays accumulation of power arms, and Marc Topkin discusses his takeaways from last night’s victory
- ICYMI: Should the Rays sign Gio Gonzalez?
- ICYMI: Austin Meadows could be back sooner than expected
Around the league
- The Rays are among the trendiest teams in baseball, according the Eno Sarris of The Athletic ($)
- Sheryl Ring of FanGraphs discusses what the MLBPA can do about Ozzie Albies’ below market contract extension
- Zach Kram, The Ringer MLB: Cody Bellinger Has Been the Best Baseball Player in Los Angeles This Season
- (re)Introducing Peter Bourjos, standout defensive
center fieldersecond baseman:
Are you sure you've never played infield before, Peter? pic.twitter.com/Q7rt6WNuq3— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) April 23, 2019
- Also, the Twins are good, and fun, and good:
4 in a row on the road! #TwinsWin #MNTwins pic.twitter.com/Leu8f9yzSX— Minnesota Twins (@Twins) April 23, 2019