Spenser Watkins fired six sharp innings of one-run baseball in his third major league start Monday as the Baltimore Orioles solved division rival Tampa Bay, beating the Rays 6-1 in St. Petersburg, Fla.
The 28-year-old right-hander, who made his big-league debut on July 2 in relief, faced the Rays for the first time and limited them to four hits.
Watkins (2-0) struck out seven and walked two while making 92 pitches. He lowered his ERA to 1.65.
Austin Hays finished 3-for-5 with a double, a run and an RBI for the Orioles, who won their third consecutive game. Trey Mancini had two hits and a walk, and Pat Valaika produced a key two-out, two-run single.
The victory was Orioles’ first in seven tries against the Rays, who lost for just the third time in their past 11 games overall.
Tampa Bay’s Randy Arozarena went 2-for-4 with an RBI double. All-Star catcher Mike Zunino (hip flexor tightness) and designated hitter Yandy Diaz (neck spasms) left the game with injuries.
Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough, who was 4-0 in his past six starts, had a rough outing but still lasted 5 2/3 innings. Yarbrough (6-4) surrendered six runs on eight hits while walking two and striking out five.
Riding the momentum of a series win in Kansas City, the Orioles jumped on Yarbrough in the first inning. Hays and Mancini singled, and Ryan Mountcastle produced an RBI double. Anthony Santander’s sacrifice fly plated a second run.
In the sixth, Yarbrough walked Santander and allowed a single to Ramon Urias before retiring the next two batters. Valaika broke an 0-for-16 drought by hitting a dying liner to center field that drove in two, and he advanced to second on Kevin Kiermaier’s throw home.
Kelvin Gutierrez slashed a single to push Baltimore’s lead to 5-0, chasing Yarbrough. Hays sliced a ground-rule double against reliever Matt Wisler to score Gutierrez to round out the four-run inning.
Arozarena finally put the home side on the board with a deep double to center that sent home Austin Meadows in the bottom half, but Watkins snuffed the threat with a high fastball to whiff Joey Wendle swinging.
Orioles relievers Cole Sulser, Paul Fry and Tyler Wells each tossed a scoreless inning as the visiting pitching held the Rays to five hits and struck out 10. Tampa Bay pitchers fanned 11 but yielded nine hits.
–Field Level Media