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Rays 0, Rangers 3: Bats go quiet in Arlington

Where will the offense come from?

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers Raymond Carlin III-USA TODAY Sports

Game 2 of this series was a matchup between two southpaws, with Ryan Yarbrough facing off against Martín Pérez. The latter of the two entered tonight’s game as one of the American League’s best pitchers so far in 2022. He had a 1.60 ERA through nine starts and was boasting a 20.2 K% and 6.4 BB%, both of which are career-bests.

Ryan Yarbrough was sharp through the first three innings, striking out two and only putting one man on base when rookie infielder Josh Smith was hit by a pitch in the third. The second trip through the order was trickier for the Rays’ lefty.

The Rangers’ first hit was a home run from their $325 million shortstop Corey Seager. The solo blast came off the bat at 105 mph and traveled 427 feet. The next batter, Mitch Garver, also made hard contact, roping a double to left field with an exit velocity of 105 mph.

2021 AL Rookie of the Year finalist Adolis García came through with the hardest hit of the night (111 mph), sending an 0-1 changeup 440 feet to left-centerfield for a two-run home run.

Yarbrough finished with 6.2 innings pitched, his longest outing of the season. He three runs on six, striking out three batters and walking none. However, he did hit Josh Smith with a pitch on two separate occasions. Outside of the third inning where he was rocked, Yarbrough looked efficient and generated lots of soft contact. His ERA now sits at 4.00 with a 4.54 FIP.

Martín Pérez looked as sharp as he has all season, locating his sinker on both sides of the plate, and mowing down a Rays lineup that is now without its two best hitters in Brandon Lowe and Wander Franco.

In the first inning, it looked like the Rays’ offense would find some success against Pérez, with two balls in play over 100 mph, but no runs to show for it. Francisco Mejía and Taylor Walls added a pair of singles in the second, and they ended up being the last two Rays’ baserunners in the game.

Pérez worked seven shutout innings, striking out five, before turning it over to the bullpen. John King, another lefty, worked a one-two-three eighth, before Joe Barlow came in with a 3-0 lead in the ninth.

The Rays sent the top of their order to the plate, but none could reach base and the Rangers took a 2-0 series lead in a crisp 2 hour and 22-minute contest. Even with the right-handed Barlow in the game for the ninth, Kevin Cash opted to leave all three of his left-handed hitters (Kiermaier, Choi, Phillips) on the bench. Pérez, King, and Barlow combined to retire 22 straight Rays batters to end the game.

One bright spot from this game was Shawn Armstrong’s first appearance of the season. The right-handed reliever, who spent time with the Rays last season and the Marlins earlier this year, looked good in an inning and a third of work. He gave up one hit, struck out three, and walked one. His fastball got up to 96 mph, and he got 10 whiffs on 19 fastballs thrown.

With two games left, the Rays will have to win both to settle for a series split before heading home to face the White Sox. Jeffrey Springs (33.1 IP, 1.62 ERA, 2.96 FIP) takes the mound tomorrow to face his former organization, and he’ll be opposed by Jon Gray (34 IP, 5.56 ERA, 4.02 FIP).