The Rays are in Chicago to begin a three-game series against the Cubs, with today’s game being an early Memorial Day start. Taj Bradley started for the Rays against Cubs right-hander Marcus Stroman.
Taj takes the hill today at the Friendly Confines pic.twitter.com/fVr8EmftCR— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 29, 2023
Stroman needed only 11 pitches to get through the top of the Rays lineup, while Taj Bradley’s first inning of work required 12 pitches. Stroman was even more efficient in the second inning, tossing five pitches and getting three groundouts to set the Rays down 1-2-3.
Bradley allowed a leadoff single to Dansby Swanson, but struck out the next two Cubs hitters for the inning’s first two outs. After walking Matt Mervis, Bradley got a popout to end the inning.
Luke Raley was hit by a pitch to begin the third inning, making him the first Rays baserunner in the game. Marcus Stroman worked around that mistake by striking out the next two batters and getting a groundout to move on to the bottom of the third.
Bradley was good once again in the bottom of the third, recording two strikeouts while throwing 14 pitches in a 1-2-3 inning. The Rays offense also went down 1-2-3 in the top of the fourth.
The bottom of the fourth saw Taylor Walls overthrow first base and allow Seiya Suzuki to not only reach base, but advance to second on a ball that went into the first base seats. The Cubs put two straight balls in the air, deep enough for Suzuki to move up each time, plating the game’s first run. After the unearned run scored, Bradley struck out Edwin Rios, ending the inning.
The top of the fifth was another quick one, as Stroman needed only nine pitches to retire the Rays in order. Bradley also worked a 1-2-3 inning in the bottom-half of the fifth. But once again in the top of the sixth, Stroman set the Rays down in order, this time on 14 pitches.
Bradley struck out the first two Cubs he faced in the bottom of the sixth, but Trevor Kelley entered to finish out the inning, ending Taj’s day after 5.2 innings of work. Bradley had thrown 90 pitches, striking out eight Cubs, allowing three hits, one unearned run and one walk. Kelley struck out Seiya Suzuki to end the frame.
Hitless through six innings, the Rays finally got one on the board after Wander Franco hit a leadoff single to left to lead off the seventh. He stole second base before Brandon Lowe walked, putting the Rays and their baseball-leading offense in a prime position to put some runs up. Unfortunately, after Randy Arozarena flew out, Josh Lowe grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Joe La Sorsa entered the game in the bottom of the seventh, making his Major League debut after four full seasons in the minors. He was drafted by the Rays in the 18th round of the 2019 Draft, but looked like a first rounder after setting down the Cubs in order and needing only 11 pitches to do so.
His 1st inning as a big leaguer goes 1-2-3.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 29, 2023
Congrats, Joe! pic.twitter.com/XcC87TurcB
The Rays offense once again was set down 1-2-3 in the top of the eighth. La Sorsa stayed out to face the bottom of the Cubs lineup, and he recorded two strikeouts before walking Miles Mastrobuoni. Nico Hoerner flew out to end the inning, making it two clean innings of work in La Sorsa’s debut.
Stroman stayed in to pitch the top of the ninth, and it took him 12 pitches in the final frame to finalize his complete game shutout. Everything was working well for the former Blue Jays pitcher that the Rays have seen many times, as he struck out eight while throwing 105 pitches.
The Rays will have two more chances to notch a win or two at Wrigley Field, and they’ll be trotting out Shane McClanahan in tomorrow’s attempt. Kyle Hendricks will start for the Cubs, and first pitch will be at 8:05 pm.