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Rays 7, Royals 1: El Electrico shines, offense breaks through late

Patiño is recalled from Durham and leads the Rays to victory at home.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Tampa Bay Rays Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Luis Patiño was called up from Durham to make just his fourth start of the season. Dealing with injuries and struggling with command, Patiño hasn’t become a mainstay in the rotation as expected this season. However, the Rays needed an extra arm and Patiño was starting to find success at AAA.

Max Castillo got the start for Kansas City. It was his third start, but he has also made 8 appearances out of the bullpen. In his rookie season, Castillo has a 3.05 ERA having thrown 20.2 innings.

The scoring started early, with Yandy Díaz finding some launch angle on Castillo’s second pitch of the game. He turned on a 1-0 fastball and sent it 400 feet into the left field stands, with a 28-degree launch angle for his seventh home run of the season.

After the home run, both pitchers cruised through the first five innings. Patiño looked better than he has all season and finished with 5.2 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, and 4 K. He leaned on his changeup more than usual, which proved effective against a poor Kansas City lineup. 18 of his 86 pitches were changeups, and 5 of those pitches were whiffs. On top of the effective changeup, Patiño’s fastball was electric as ever, averaging 95 mph.

Castillo held his own against the Rays’ lineup, working five innings with his only run given up coming on the Díaz leadoff homer. Lefty Amir Garrett worked the sixth to face both Brandon Lowe and David Peralta and was brought back in the seventh to face Ji-Man Choi who he got to strike out swinging.

It seemed like the Rays’ taxed bullpen was going to have to hold onto a one-run lead as they try and cling on to one of the American League’s three Wild Card spots. After pulling Garrett, Matheny turned to the Royals’ Opening Day Starter Brad Keller who has transitioned to a bullpen role later in the season. Keller proceeded to allow six straight hits, including singles from Christian Bethancourt, Roman Quinn, and Jose Siri, then a two-run double from Díaz, an RBI-single for Lowe, and an RBI-double for Randy Arozarena. If you blinked it’s now 6-1 Rays.

That allowed the Rays to rest their high-leverage arms, and turn to Shawn Armstrong. The Royals' leadoff hitter Michael Massey got the eighth inning started with a solo home run, but surrendered no further damage.

The Rays added even more insurance in the eighth on a Bethancourt solo home run and probably should’ve had more as Choi hit a double to start the inning before being thrown out at third trying to stretch it into a triple. After the home run, Quinn did what Choi couldn’t, getting all the way to the third base bag standing up. Quinn’s got a little bit more speed than his first base teammate.

Armstrong worked the ninth as well and finalized a 7-1 win for the Rays coming off an impressive series win in New York against the Yankees. Game 2 of the weekend series against the Royals will be Friday at 7:10. Cy Young candidate Shane McClanahan will pitch for the Rays and go up against Brady Singer.