ST. PETERSBURG — Rays right-hander Luis Patino, still nearly seven weeks from his 22nd birthday, is enduring the inconsistency of youth.
He has been awesome. He has been less than great.
After two straight productive performances, he was on the downswing Sunday afternoon during a 6-5 defeat against the Minnesota Twins at Tropicana Field.
Patino lasted just 2 2/3 innings, being touched for six hits, three walks and four earned runs in the 73-pitch outing.
“Kyle (Snyder, pitching coach) and I kept looking at each other as that (31-pitch second) inning was unfolding and it felt like he just could never get in a rhythm or get in a groove,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “The Twins hit some balls hard. They hit some balls that fell in between infielders and outfielders. I don’t think we can pinpoint it exactly, but you could tell he (Patino) was just a little out of sorts.”
In his previous two starts, Patino had gone 11 2/3 innings, allowing just three earned runs while walking two and striking out 10. Sunday was a drastic reversal of fortune.
“I would say, for me, it was a bad start,” Patino said. “I’ve been having some pretty good starts, but I’m just going to go out there and do the hard work. I’m still going to work for my team, be a good teammate and continue to put in the work. I know it’s part of the process. I’ve got to take those days off from here and go on to the next start.”
Rays shortstop Wander Franco, 20, reached base in his 35th consecutive game when he doubled in the seventh inning. He is third all-time for the longest on-base streak by a player age 20 or younger (Frank Robinson had 43 in 1956, Mickey Mantle had 36 in 1951-52).
“I probably wasn’t born (when they played),” Franco said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I know who they are. They are legends. Some of the best players and all-stars who ever played this game.”
It’s the third-longest on-base streak in Rays history (Johnny Damon had 39 in 2011 and Ben Grieve had 37 in 2001). Franco’s streak almost ended Thursday night when he was removed from the game with a headache (but not before he took Ball Four to register a walk, keeping the streak alive).
Franco isn’t sure what caused the headache. He said he suffered from ear infections while growing up. It also could have been caused by a hard tag at the home plate during Wednesday’s game. Either way, Franco said he now feels fine.
Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, the former Rays player and coach, left the dugout in the eighth inning so he could make a flight back to Minneapolis (6:11 p.m.) to witness the birth of his first child.
“It’s a big day,” Baldelli said. “There’s nothing better than this and I’m incredibly excited.”
Bench coach Bill Evers, 67, who ran the team after Baldelli’s departure, announced it would be his final season after 46 years in professional baseball. He spent 23 of those years in the Rays’ organization and coached Baldelli. Evers said he will travel to places like Ireland and Scotland with his wife, while watching his grandchildren play Little League baseball.
Cash was still admiring Saturday’s accomplishment, when the Rays set a major-league record with their 13th different pitcher recording a save (breaking a mark held by the 2020 Rays and 1973 Rangers).
“It’s the flexibility certainly, but also the depth and you have to give credit to so many people,” Cash said. “The pitchers out there who are doing it. Erik (Neander, general manager) and his staff. The player development group, Kevin Ibach (senior director, pro personnel and scouting), the guys who go and find these pitchers and find special things about them that can really contribute to our team over the course of a six-month season. It’s really impressive what they do, finding ways to make the most of them.”
First baseman Ji-Man Choi (left hamstring strain) and outfielder Brett Phillips (right ankle sprain), who played in Saturday’s Florida Complex League doubleheader, will accompany the Rays on the road trip, but it’s not certain when they could be activated. … Right-hander Nick Anderson (right elbow sprain) pitched one inning Saturday for Triple-A Durham. “He’s starting to speed it up,” Cash said. “We could be seeing him soon.” … Right-hander Matt Wisler (finger inflammation) struck out three of the four batters he faced Sunday night while rehabbing with Durham. He threw 19 pitches (13 for strikes). … In the seventh inning, the Trop’s public-address announcer boomed, “Now batting for the Rays … Kevin Kiermaier!” Brandon Lowe, who was due up, stared up at the booth in wonderment. The mistake was quickly corrected. … The Rays fell to 60-8 when leading after the six innings and dropped to 17-19 in one-run games this season. … Austin Meadows had gone 149 at-bats without a homer against left-handed pitcher before his fifth-inning blast off Caleb Thielbar.
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