BOSTON – The Rays lost another game Thursday, but they might have found a starting pitcher if and when they are ready to add a fourth to their rotation.
Rookie RHP Yonny Chirinos not only impressed by delivering five shutout innings, he did so in such an efficient manger, throwing just 54 pitches, allowing three hits (one on a CF Kevin Kiermaier misplay) and walking none.
"That was fun to sit there and watch him go through a good Red Sox lineup, limit a lot of damage, get a lot of weak contact," said Rays manager Kevin Cash. "He made it challenging to take him out of the ball game."
Chirinos starred at Triple-A Durham last year, but Sunday was his first big-league appearance (thus the reason he was somewhat limited on three days' rest) and Thursday his first start. He said he kept his emotions in check, and focused on his task.
"I threw all three pitches for strikes and I threw all of them with a purpose," the Venezuelan said through team interpreter Manny Navarro. "And I was able to locate well."
Sox manager Alex Cora was also impressed: "I thought Chirinos did an outstanding job pitching inside early in the game and off his sinker. He started throwing that split-finger down in the zone. He wasn't giving us too many pitches in the middle of the zone. It was on the edge. He was great. A lot of weak contact, a lot of ground balls."
CF Kevin Kiermaier wasn't kidding when he said he heard about using Vaseline to combat cold temperatures from teammate Carlos Gomez. With a first-pitch temperature of 40 and a feels-like in the mid-30s, Gomez planned to apply a heavy coat to his body Thursday. He first learned the trick from some Brewers personnel and said it's a big help by covering his pores, and easy to remove in a hot shower. Gomez had a small container of Vaseline in his locker, but noting the forecast said, "I need a gallon today."
The game could have ended in bizarre fashion for the Rays. They ran off the field assuming the nifty play by 2B Daniel Robertson and great scoop by 1B Brad Miller was the final out of the ninth, and that Xander Bogaerts didn't score the winning run. The Sox challenged the call, and after a nearly 2-minute review that seemed like 10 to determine the call "stands" (meaning there wasn't conclusive proof to reverse it), the Rays were relieved to know they would play on. "It was close. Lucky it turned out in our favor this time," Robertson said. "Definitely not enough to overturn it. Normally it doesn't go our way. From what I saw last year, it was always Boston or New York's way."
Cash had no qualms about putting rookie LHP Ryan Yarbrough in a tough spot, bringing him in to face Andrew Benintendi with one out in the 12th and the winning run on third: "If you're on the team, you have to be able to (handle it)." Yarbrough, a starter his whole career, said he expected to get the call at some point as the game went on. "It didn't honestly bother me in that regard," he said. "Yarbrough got ahead 0-2, but Benintendi fouled off and took several tough pitches to draw a bases-loading walk, then Hanley Ramirez followed with the winning hit: "I kind of put myself into a tough situation."
Stats of the day
.071, 2-for-28, 12
CF Kevin Kiermaier's batting average, hits-for-at-bats, strikeouts
Cool facts of the day
RHP Yonny Chirinos was the first Rays pitcher to make his first career start at Fenway Park and the first to do so and not allow a run over at least five innings since Kyle Davies for the Braves on May 21, 2005.
• Thursday marked the Rays' fourth walkoff loss in Boston, first since May 30, 2014.
• The 1-6 start matches the franchise worst for seven games, also 2001 and 2011.
• All four losses to Boston this season have been by one run; 22 of the past 33 between the teams have been decided by one or two.
• C Xorge Carrillo, who had been in major-league camp, was released.
• First-pitch temperature was 40 for the second time in three games on this trip, matching the ninth lowest in franchise history. Coldest was 34 on April 17, 2003, in Boston.
• With snow and frigid temperatures forecast, there is some talk of moving Monday's game in Chicago from night to an afternoon start.