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Rays 1, Braves 2: Pitching duel goes in Atlanta’s favor

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This is a Ryan Yarbrough appreciation recap.

Tampa Bay Rays v. Cleveland Indians Photo by Alex Trautwig/MLB via Getty Images

The finale of the home-and-home series against the Atlanta Braves is upon us. With the Rays winning the first two games at Tropicana Field and the Braves winning the first of two games at Truist Park, the Rays looked to secure the series win against young lefty Max Fried.

Fried threw a perfect first inning against the Rays, striking out the side and making way for the Braves offense to face Ryan Yarbrough. Yarbrough looked to recreate his strong outing from last Saturday when he did not allow a run in five innings of work. Yarby was sharp in his first inning of work, as was Fried in the next half, who threw a perfect second inning.

The Braves got off to an early lead in the bottom of the second after a Marcell Ozuna single, Adam Duvall hit by pitch and then RBI single by Dansby Swanson, scoring Ozuna and moving Duvall to third. Austin Riley drove Duvall home with a sacrifice fly to give the Braves a 2-0 lead. Yarbrough recorded two strikeouts in the inning without allowing any more runs.

Max Fried threw a perfect third inning while Ryan Yarbrough also threw a perfect third inning.

Max Fried threw a perfect fourth inning. Ryan Yarbrough walked a batter before inducing a double play, throwing an almost perfect inning.

Max Fried threw a perfect fif- no he did not! Mike Brosseau hit a grounder up the middle to give the Rays their first hit of the game, something that did not seem likely to happen with the way Fried was shutting down the offense. Fried was impeccable to this point, so impeccable in fact that he picked Brosseau off of first to end the inning. At least Yarbrough threw a perfect fifth inning.

Manuel Margot hit a one-out single in the top of the sixth before Yandy Diaz drew a two-out walk, but both hitters would be stranded as Jose Martinez grounded out to end the inning. The offense made Fried throw 23 pitches that inning, finally showing signs of not only patience but even some life.

Yarbrough was once again good in the bottom of the sixth, not allowing a hit while striking Freddie Freeman out. Despite minor blemishes in the bottom of the second, Yarbrough did not allow a hit in any of the other innings he pitched, having once again another good outing. Unfortunately for the Rays, Fried was even better.

In the top of the seventh, after two outs were recorded, Willy Adames hit a double off of Fried, marking the end of Fried’s day after a fantastic 6.2 innings of work. Luke Jackson entered the game and Ji-Man Choi welcomed him with an RBI single to plate Adames. One run would be all that would cross the plate for the Rays that inning, making it a 2-1 ballgame.

Yarbrough started the bottom of the seventh with another strikeout, his sixth of the game.

Yarbrough’s day was done after hitting Johan Camargo with a pitch that Camargo leaned into, but it is very hard to complain about the outing the young Rays lefty had tonight.

Throwing 87 pitches across 6.1 innings, Yarbrough allowed two hits (both in the second inning), struck out six and walked three (one intentionally), all while receiving no runs of support for six innings. Jalen Beeks entered in relief and did not allow a run to end the inning.

The offense was quiet in the top of the eighth, and Jalen Beeks threw a scoreless bottom of the eighth, although not without some dramatics, making way for one last attempt at some offensive production before the end of the game.

Brandon Lowe hit a one-out single and Kevin Kiermaier was brought in to pinch-run for Lowe. With Hunter Renfroe at the plate, Kiermaier, the tying run, attempted to steal second but questionably made no attempt to slide until he was about a foot away from the plate, easily getting thrown out by Tyler Flowers and recording the second out of the inning. Hunter Renfroe struck out to end the game.

The Rays split the home-and-home series with the Braves 2-2 and will now be heading to Baltimore to begin a three-game series with the Orioles. Blake Snell will be taking the mound for the Rays tomorrow against former Rays pitcher Alex Cobb with first pitch scheduled for 7:35 pm.