The Rays welcomed to the Cleveland Indians to Tropicana Field, opening a three-game series between two teams fighting for spots in the AL Wild Card race.
Thank you for everything you did, Mr. Vince Naimoli. pic.twitter.com/ok8PZn62ik— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 30, 2019
In honor of Namoli, the Rays played this game wearing their shiny Devil Rays throwbacks with “VJN” patches stitched to the shoulders of the jerseys, patches that will remain on every jersey the Rays wear for the rest of the season.
Austin Pruitt took the mound for the Rays for his first traditional start on the season, facing off against 2019 All-Star Game MVP Shane “Not Justin” Bieber.
The first third of this game flew by within an hour, with neither team putting a run on the board and both pitchers throwing exceptionally well. Pruitt recorded four strikeouts in his first three innings, while Bieber struck out six.
Austin Pruitt’s night was over after 5.1 exceptional scoreless innings, striking out six while allowing four hits. Oliver Drake relieved Pruitt with one out in the sixth and got through the inning, not allowing any baserunners.
Drake stayed in the game to pitch the top of the seventh, and although he allowed a hit, Drake struck out Roberto Perez before getting an inning-ending groundout.
Austin Meadows hit a line drive to right field to lead off the bottom of the seventh, and Travis d’Arnaud moved Meadows up to third with a single of his own, putting runners on the corners with no outs for Ji-Man Choi. Choi struck out, bringing Avisail Garcia to the plate. Garcia hit a grounder in-between the third baseman and shortstop for a single, scoring Meadows and giving the Rays a 1-0 lead.
Garcia’s RBI single marked the end of Shane Bieber’s night, and Bieber was fantastic for Cleveland tonight until his final inning, striking out nine while allowing three runs. Submariner Adam Cimber entered the game for the Indians to relive Bieber. Cimber got Wendle to ground out for the second out in the inning, bringing Jesus Aguilar to the plate.
Aguilar ripped a 1-1 pitch from Cimber into the left field seats, extending the Rays lead to 4-0. The ball left Aguilar’s bat at 97 mph with a launch angle of 25 degrees and a projected distance of 374 feet.
Colin Poche entered the game in the top of the eighth, marking the end of Oliver Drake’s night. Drake struck out one and allowed a hit in his 1.2 innings of work. After walking Yu Chang on four pitches to lead off the inning, Poche settled down after a mound visit from Kyle Snyder and got Francisco Lindor to ground into a double play. Oscar Mercado flew out to end the inning.
Andrew Kittredge was called upon to close this game out for the Rays, and Kittredge did just that, retiring the Indians and securing the victory. The Rays shut out the Indians 4-0 and opened this series exactly the way they had hoped, although Oakland won as well, leaving the Rays one game out of a Wild Card spot.
The middle game of this three-game series takes place tomorrow inside of Tropicana Field with first pitch scheduled for 6:10 pm.