On Jackie Robinson Day, the Rays and Marlins settled into an old fashioned pitchers duel, as command guy Ryan Yarbrough hooked up with flame throwing prospect Sixto Sanchez. The Rays came out on top 2-0 for their tenth win in the last 12 games.
With the lineup already lefty-heavy, the Rays added another lefty to the lineup when Mike Zunino was a late scratch with left oblique tightness, giving Michael Perez the start at catcher.
Perez would be involved early, making a nice play on a tapper in front of the plate, then later nailing Jon Berti’s Ill-advised first inning attempt to steal third.
Welcome to Michael Perez’s defensive clinic pic.twitter.com/mREceDQTau— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 28, 2020
After the Rays looked thoroughly overmatched by Sanchez in the first, Ji-Man Choi ripped a single to right to lead off the second. Two strikeouts later, Margot worked a walk, bringing Yoshi to the plate. Tsutsugo worked a full count before grounding sharply to Villar, ending the threat.
The Marlins threatened in the third when Lew Brinson doubled to left with one out. Yarbs worked out of the jam, getting Rojas to ground out to short and Berti to ground to third.
The two pitchers dominated in different ways, with Sanchez bringing 100 mph heat mixed with a nasty low-90s change up, while Yarbrough did his thing with low octane cutters and change ups. The contrast in styles was delightful to watch. It didn’t hurt that both pitchers worked fast and threw strikes. The only thing that spoiled the viewing experience of this pitchers duel was a very wonky zone from Paul Nauert.
The Rays next scoring chance came in the sixth. Brandon Lowe singled off Villar’s glove with one out, then advanced to second on a Diaz groundout. But Ji-Man Choi grounded to second to end inning.
The Rays tried to manufacture some offense in the seventh, after Adames led off with a single. But with Willy breaking on the first pitch to Wendle, he was out by a lot at second. Then after a Wendle groundout, Margot singled on a line drive to left. Margot then stole second on the 1-2 pitch to Yoshi. Yoshi got to a full count before grounding to first to retire the side.
Yarbrough worked two batters into the seventh before exiting with groin tightness.
The #Rays Ryan Yarbrough left with left groin tightness. That's relatively good news.— Neil Solondz (@neilsolondz) August 29, 2020
His line: six and two-third shutout innings, four hits, five strikeouts and no walks. Fairbanks came on and finished the inning.
For the Marlins, Sanchez exited after seven shutout innings. He gave up six singles, struck out ten and walked one.
Lefty Richard Bleier came on for Perez/Meadows/Lowe in the eighth. After a Perez strikeout, Meadows singled to right. Lowe then grounded out to second, moving Meadows to second. Brad Boxberger then got the call to face Yandy Diaz. Yandy served a 1-1 change up into left for a single, scoring Meadows.
Thank you very much, Yandy pic.twitter.com/EP7ZTVeegQ— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 29, 2020
Pete Fairbanks stayed on to pitch the bottom of the eighth and worked a clean frame.
The Rays added on an insurance run against Josh A. Smith in the ninth With one out, Wendle reached on a nubber, then advanced to second on a Margot groundout to third. Yoshi followed by drawing a walk. Michael Perez then got a hanging curve that he deposited into right, scoring Wendle.
Diego Castillo got the call for the bottom of the ninth. He ran into some trouble with two outs, giving up a double to Cooper and walking Villar. But he got Alfaro to ground out to end the game.