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Rays’ Shane Baz, coming off shaky season debut, faces Orioles

Sportsnaut
Jun 11, 2022; Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA; Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Shane Baz (11) throws to the Minnesota Twins in the first inning at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports

Shane Baz enjoyed a fast start before seeing an abrupt end during his season debut last week.

The electric right-hander will look to turn in a better performance on Friday when his Tampa Bay Rays open a three-game series against the host Baltimore Orioles.

Baz (0-1, 19.29 ERA) retired the first six batters he faced on Saturday before the bottom fell out in the Rays’ 6-5 loss to the Minnesota Twins. The 22-year-old allowed all six batters he faced to reach in the third inning, with five crossing the plate before he exited.

In all, Baz permitted five runs on three hits — including a grand slam — in his long-awaited return after arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies from his pitching elbow.

“It’s one game,” Baz said, per the Tampa Bay Times. “So, it (stinks) that I cost us the game basically giving up the five spot. But all you can do is be better next time.”

The next time is Friday, and it will represent Baz’s fifth career start and first against Baltimore.

“(Saturday) wasn’t how he probably drew it up, but it’s OK. Life goes on,” teammate Kevin Kiermaier said. “He’s nasty. He’s going to be dominant in this league for years. This game can humble you real quick, and I know he’ll bounce back and he’ll be great (on Friday).”

The Rays enter the series opener having lost three in a row and five of six games. Tampa Bay’s troubles continued when Anthony Rizzo belted a solo homer with one out in the ninth inning off Shawn Armstrong to give the host New York Yankees a 2-1, walk-off win on Thursday.

Rays first baseman Ji-Man Choi, who saw his 13-game hitting streak come to a halt on Thursday, had three hits in a 7-6, 11-inning loss to the Orioles on May 22. Tampa Bay dropped two of three in that series from May 20-22.

The Orioles enter the weekend set having won four of their past six overall, including a convincing 10-2 road triumph over the Toronto Blue Jays on Thursday.

Baltimore jumped on Toronto starter Kevin Gausman to seize a quick 7-0 lead after three innings.

“We took really good at-bats off Gausman,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “I was really happy with the pressure we put on them and making him come in the strike zone. We just jumped on him early. It was great.”

Ryan Mountcastle, who hit a two-run single in the third inning, is 11-for-27 (.407) with four homers, eight RBIs and eight runs during his six-game hitting streak. He went 2-for-4 with a solo homer in Baltimore’s win on May 22.

Baltimore’s Rougned Odor, who had an RBI triple in the seventh inning on Thursday, went 4-for-12 with two doubles, a triple, a homer and four RBIs in the previous series versus the Rays.

Orioles right-hander Dean Kremer (1-1, 3.86 ERA) would appreciate that type of high-octane offense when he takes the mound on Thursday.

Kremer answered a tough season debut by registering his first win since his major league debut on Sept. 6, 2020. He allowed two runs, one earned, on four hits in five innings of a 10-7 victory at Kansas City on Sunday.

Kremer, 26, is 0-1 with a 5.63 ERA in two career starts vs. Tampa Bay.

–Field Level Media