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Rays 3 Royals 1: What? You doubted?

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Rays get clutch hit from AL Rookie of the month; Morton pitches a gem

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Kansas City Royals Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays badly needed a win today to get the taste of double header defeat (which I’ve heard tastes a bit like chicken) out of their mouths. And thanks to AL Rookie of the Month Brandon Lowe, they did indeed get that victory.

The Royals starter was Danny Duffy, who has that “soft tossing lefty” aura that will make any Rays fan nervous (yes, I know his fastball can hit 93 but his reliance on offspeed stuff and easy throwing motion give me that soft-tossing vibe). The players may have changed but can any Rays fan fully exorcise the ghosts of Dallas Braden and Mark Buehrle?

Before I get to game action can we get this out of the way? Dewayne Staats apparently dines at gas stations. At least in Kansas City:

But back to baseball.

Do you like pitchers duels with a lot of strikeouts and ground ball outs? With pitchers who work quickly and avoid deep counts? Then today was your day.

Charlie Morton and Danny Duffy both pitched really well. Morton would eventually pitch 6.2 innings, striking out 9 and walking just one — the last batter he faced. But he did allow 5 hits, four for extra bases.

Hunter Dozier and Whit Merrifield both hit for extra bases. While Morton did well to strand them, he allowed a run in the third. It started when Martin Maldonado beat out an infield dribbler. He’s not a speedy guy but he was able to score on a Whit Merrifield triple that rattled around a bit in right center field (note: Kevin Kiermaier had the day off). Royals 1, Rays 0.

The Rays tied it up in the fifth with a Willy Adames seeing eye single with 1 out, and Nate Lowe followed with a line drive single on a full count. Guillermo Heredia blooped one to shallow center field that Billy Hamilton played awkwardly on a short bounce, allowing Adames to score and tie the game at 1-1. The Rays lost 8-2 the day before despite having a ton of balls hit over 100mph; today they finally managed to tie the game on a 69.9mph bloop.

The starters and then bullpens traded quick innings until the top of the ninth. With Wily Peralta on the mound, Avisail Garcia drew a walk on an admittedly borderline pitch. Brandon Lowe came up against the righty, and drove a mistake 2-2 changeup into the rightfield bullpen. It wasn’t one of Lowe’s patented OMG blasts but it did the job of clearing the fence for the Rays to take a 3-1 lead.

So all the Rays needed to get out of KC with their dignity in tact was to get three final outs. Diego Castillo managed those without breaking a sweat and the Rays were winners.

The Rays fly to Baltimore tonight, where rain could interfere with one or more of their weekend games. The first AL team to get to 20 wins, the Rays will start AL Pitcher of the Month Tyler Glasnow on Friday.