Sunday, April 17, 2016

Rays break out offensively, thwart White Sox

The Rays were due -- make that overdue -- to break out of their collective slump. They entered the second game vs. the White Sox having been shut out in consecutive games and on a 19-inning scoreless streak.
The slumber is over as the Rays' bats woke up to the tune of a season-high seven runs to beat Chicago, 7-2, on Saturday night.
Brandon Guyer set the table in the third inning with his first homer of the season -- ending 21 innings of the Rays not touching home plate.
"I thought it was huge BG jumping out there and getting us on the board," shortstop Brad Miller said. "For Brandon to get us on the board there, I think kind of broke the seal a little bit and got us going."
The Rays broke out the following inning with three more runs. Steven Souza Jr.'s single brought home Evan Longoria, who led off the inning with a base hit. The biggest blow was Miller's first homer for Tampa Bay, a two-run shot to right-center off John Danks, who surrendered five runs, six hits and three walks in 6 1/3 innings.
It was a different story for the Rays on the hill, where Erasmo Ramirez continued to show his versatility -- seamlessly jumping from the bullpen to the team's fifth starter. Ramirez allowed just three hits over 5 2/3 scoreless innings while striking out four to become the first Rays starter to notch a win this season.
"I think he has a great changeup," White Sox manager Robin Ventura said of Ramirez. "That's the one thing -- any time you get a little aggressive, he seemed to be able to drop that in there. You tip your cap to him, because he controlled the plate and had guys out front."
Brett Lawrie made it a 4-2 contest with a two-run homer in the seventh, but the Rays tacked on three late runs to put the game away.
"It's been pretty quiet in the dugout," Rays manager Kevin Cash said. "Credit the pitchers we've been facing, but at the same time, we gotta figure out a way to beat good pitchers. Nice to see the guys break out a little bit today."
The Evan element: How many times do you see it in baseball? A player makes a great play in the field and leads off the next inning with a big hit. The latest example was Longoria making a great catch reaching into the stands to end a White Sox rally in the fourth and then singling to ignite the Rays' three-run inning.
Miller time: Miller entered Saturday night a 2-for-28 in his first few weeks with Tampa Bay. On this night, he collected as many hits as he had all season, and they were both big. His two-run homer extended Tampa Bay's lead, and he followed it up with an eighth-inning RBI double.
Another down day for Danks: The left-hander had a rough season debut against the Indians on April 8, allowing seven runs (five earned) and eight hits in five innings. Saturday wasn't a good evening at the office for him either, with the Rays tagging him for five runs and six hits in 6 1/3 innings. Danks is the one White Sox starter struggling among a strong staff, which led the American League with a 2.05 ERA through 10 games. More >
"I definitely threw the ball better this time than I did last time out," Danks said. "That's something to build on. But this league is about wins and losses, so it's a disappointment."
Frustrating fourth: The White Sox trailed just 1-0 until the flood gates opened in the fourth inning. Souza had a one-out RBI single to left field, scoring Longoria from second base. Then Miller followed with a two-out, two-run home run to right-center field, giving the Rays a comfortable 4-0 cushion. The White Sox weren't able to muster a comeback against Ramirez and Tampa Bay's bullpen.
"The fourth was a little rough," Ventura said. "There were some close [pitches] in there he didn't get. That's the inning where they really got him."
Only once have the Rays gone this deep into the season without a starter winning his first game. You would have to go back to 2003, when Jorge Sosa earned his first win in Tampa Bay's 17th game of the year.
White Sox: Chicago sends Jose Quintana to the mound at 1:10 p.m. ET on Sunday in the series finale against the Rays at Tropicana Field. He allowed one run on four hits over six innings in a win over the Twins on Monday. He's 1-1 with a 3.43 ERA and 18 strikeouts in four career starts against the Rays. He's 1-0 with a 1.64 ERA in two starts at Tropicana Field.
Rays: Tampa Bay turns to left-hander Matt Moore in the rubber match against Chicago. Moore is 0-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts this season. He's 3-1 with a 1.09 ERA in four career starts against the White Sox, his lowest ERA against any opponent.

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