The Tampa Bay Rays became the first team to 40 wins this season despite being on the business end of two controversial calls by umpires Friday night.
Ryan Yarbrough got the start for the Rays coming off his complete game against the New York Yankees in his last start and continued to look good on the mound. He got off to a quick start getting the first two outs of the game with four pitches. He started off with a three-pitch strikeout to Cedric Mullins and followed by getting Trey Mancini to lineout in a one-pitch at-bat. Anthony Santander made things interesting with a double but Yarbrough would get Ryan Mountcastle to strikeout swinging to end the inning.
In the bottom of the first the Rays were quick to have runners in scoring position after Manuel Margot and Yandy Diaz both drew walks in five-pitch at-bats off Keegan Akin. An Austin Meadows pop out to second followed by Randy Arozarena grounding into a double play would leave the runners stranded and the game scoreless after one inning.
Both teams were retired in order for the second inning which helps with pace of play if nothing else.
Things started to get interesting in the top of the third inning. After getting Pedro Severino to pop out Pat Valaika came to the plate. The Rays challenged a close play at first where Yarbrough was covering and it appeared to many not employed as major league umpires to be an out at first. However, the call on the field from first base umpire Nick Mahrley was safe and would stand after review in New York. Yarbrough would be charged with a fielding error on the play.
That would become more relevant to the game as two batters later Mancini hits a two-run homer (100 EV, 27 LA, 369 ft) to give the Orioles a 2-0 lead. Mancini has owned Yarbrough hitting two solo homers in their last meeting on May 19.
Ryan Yarbrough sees Trey Mancini in his nightmares pic.twitter.com/BrH9v5Dyji— Locked On Orioles (@LockedOnOrioles) June 11, 2021
The Rays were down but certainly were far from being out of the game. In the bottom of the third inning the Rays once again led off getting the first two batters on base. Mike Zunino led off the inning and hit what probably was the longest possible single you can hit in Tropicana Field with a line drive to left that Austin Hays made a great play on to hold him at first. Zunino would move to second on a Kevin Kiermaier first-pitch single and then to third on a Keegan wild pitch. Margot was next to the plate and grounded into a forceout at first that brought Zunino home to make it a 2-1 game after three innings.
Mike Zunino vs Keegan Akin#RaysUp— Would it dong? (@would_it_dong) June 12, 2021
Exit velo: 103.1 mph
Launch angle: 23 deg
Proj. distance: 349 ft
This would have been a home run at Minute Maid Park and nowhere else
BAL (2) @ TB (0)
After Yarbrough retired the side in order on only nine pitches the Rays were back to bat in the bottom of the fourth. Arozarena led off with a single after getting to a 3-1 count. Mike Brosseau would have made it another inning where the Rays have two runners on base to lead off but after hitting a single on a line drive he was thrown out at second after another great throw from Hays.
Brandon Lowe’s offense has been on the side of a milk carton this season but he came through tonight. After getting behind 1-2 in the count on he absolutely crushed a fastball for a two-run homer (106.7 EV, 37 LA, 420 ft) to make give the Rays a 3-2 lead.
Brandon Lowe - Tampa Bay Rays (11) pic.twitter.com/xND3s3ADvO— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) June 12, 2021
The Orioles batters were retired in order in both the fifth and sixth innings to finish Yarbrough’s start. He finished with a line of 6.0 IP with 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER and 6 K on 79 pitches.
Tyler Wells came into the game in the bottom of the fifth inning for the Orioles to replace Akin. Akin finished his start with 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB and 2 K on 95 pitches. Wells retired Margot, Diaz, and Austin Meadows in order. Brosseau and Lowe would both get singles in the sixth inning only to get stranded by Taylor Walls and Zunino strikeouts.
Andrew Kittredge came in to replace Yarbrough in the seventh inning. He picked up right where Yarbs left off striking out Hays and then getting Freddy Galvis to groundout and Maikel Franco to flyout and retire the side in order.
New pitcher and similar result in the bottom of the seventh inning. Cole Sulser came in to replace Wells and once again the first two hitters of the inning got on base for the Rays. Kiermaier hit a ground ball double to left and would score as Margot gets his second RBI of the game with a single. Rays lead 4-2.
J.P. Feyereisen came in to pitch the eighth inning for the Rays. After facing four hitters he had two outs and two walks putting Valaika and Mancini on base. After a mound visit Santander swung at a first-pitch changeup for the final out of the top of the eighth.
If you like a little human element mixed into your baseball there was more of that come in the bottom of the eighth. It started off with Brosseau striking out and a pitching change bringing Paul Fry in to relieve Sulser. Then another moment of positivity with Lowe getting on base again after drawing a walk. Things got interesting two batters later.
Mike Zunino hit a grounder to Franco at third and the throw to first arrived just as Zunino did. However, it looked like the throw may have taken Mountcastle off the plate. Once again, the Rays challenged the call and the review team in New York demonstrated a level of consistent incompetence by getting the call wrong with visual evidence that is mind-blowing to miss.
To be clear, the problem is not the call going against the Rays. The problem is the entire premise of instant replay is to get the call right. If you can get a call wrong that is this clear in HD, why are we extending the pace of play?
Pete Fairbanks pitched the ninth for the Rays. He only needed seven pitches to get Mountcastle to groundout, Hays to strikeout, and Galvis to groundout to end the game.
The Rays improve to 4-0 against the Orioles this season and are the first team in baseball to 40 wins this season.
These two teams are back at it tomorrow at 4:10pm ET with Rich Hill (5-2, 3.05 ERA) scheduled to start for the Rays against Jorge López (2-6, 5.30 ERA) for the Orioles.