ST. PETERSBURG – The confidence the Rays had in the departure of 22-year-old rookie Shane Baz in Game 2 of the American League Divisional Series didn’t get them very far on Friday.
Baz failed to come out of the third inning, allowing three runs on six hits and one walk, requiring 47 pitches to get seven strikeouts.
He looked uncomfortable from the start, running Red Sox point guard Kyle Schwarber on four shots, then giving up hits to four of Boston’s next five hitters and two runs. Only a late-inning double play from shortstop Wander Franco kept him from being worse.
“I thought Shane was doing fine,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “His business was going well. Right off the bat they ambushed him with some quality sticks, but I felt like mentally he was just fine. Maybe it was just a lack of execution on certain grounds.
“(Pitching coach) Kyle (Snyder) and I and even (wide receiver Mike Zunino) were talking, like the stuff looked really good. But, again, it’s the formation of the Red Sox that deserves a lot of credit. “
Friday’s start was only Baz’s fourth in the majors. And that was clearly his biggest challenge in a year where he started out in Double-A, moved up to Triple-A, then was picked to compete in the All-Star Futures Game and for Team USA at the. Tokyo Olympics before being promoted to majors on September 20.
Zunino said the four-length walk gave Baz a bad tone.
“It’s the most important thing, working in front of the guys,” he said. “I’m sure if he could get that batting presence back to somehow change the outcome of that and the momentum of that first run, I’m sure he could. I thought we did a good job answering over there at the bottom of the first one, and it settled down. But it’s a very good attack there.
The Red Sox didn’t release their roster until about an hour before the first pitch, waiting to determine if designated hitter JD Martinez, who missed Thursday’s opener with a sore right ankle, was available. And he sure was, with a double and a key three-run homerun. … The Sox also made a league-approved roster change, adding reliever Matt Barnes, who recorded 24 saves, a team-high but none after August 4, to replace awarded Garrett Richards. a diagnosis of left hamstring strain. Richards is not eligible for the Championship Series if the Sox advance.
The American League Divisional Series travels to Boston for Game 3 on Sunday.
There was some buzz on TV shots of several Rays eating popcorn in the closing rounds of Thursday’s series opener. Popcorn – a brand of “healthy” style – is one of the many snacks typically available in the dugout, along with Honey Stinger waffles and applesauce in squeezable pouches. “Applesauce Rally,” Nelson Cruz called him. Other snack options include dried beef and turkey, dried mango, nuts, and banana bread.
• Assists reported were 37,616, the highest for the Rays at Tropicana Field since June 17, 2016, when they shot 40,135 for a Pride Night game against the Giants.
• Jordan Luplow’s first inning grand slam was the Rays’ second in the playoffs; Hunter Renfroe (now with Boston) scored a hit in Game 2 of the 2020 AL Wild Card Series against Toronto.
• The Rays head to Boston late Saturday morning, with plans for a light workout at Fenway Park.
• Wander Franco is the first player in major league history, according to STATS LLC, to have multiple extra-base hits in his regular season and playoff debuts. With Randy Arozarena in the lead and Franco in second, the Rays were the first team to start rookies in the top two in order for a playoff opener.
• Longtime Tampa Bay area sports broadcaster and former Rays employee Dick Crippen threw the ceremonial first pitch; Trop favorite saxophonist BK Jackson performed the hymn again.
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