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Rough start leads to short night for Rays rookie starter Shane Baz

Notebook | A four-pitch walk and four hits in a five-batter span in the first inning set a bad tone.
Rays starting pitcher Shane Baz, facing front, is taken out of the game by manager Kevin Cash (16), far left, in the third inning of Friday's game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field.
Rays starting pitcher Shane Baz, facing front, is taken out of the game by manager Kevin Cash (16), far left, in the third inning of Friday's game against the Boston Red Sox at Tropicana Field. [ IVY CEBALLO | Times ]
Published Oct. 9
Updated Oct. 9

ST. PETERSBURG — The confidence the Rays had in starting 22-year-old rookie Shane Baz in Game 2 of the American League Division Series didn’t get them very far Friday.

Baz didn’t make it out of the third inning, allowing three runs on six hits and a walk, needing 47 pitches to get seven outs.

He looked uncomfortable from the start, walking Red Sox leadoff man Kyle Schwarber on four pitches, then giving up hits to four of the next five Boston batters and two runs. Only an inning-ending double play started by shortstop Wander Franco kept it from being worse.

“I thought Shane was fine,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “His stuff was fine. Right out of the gate they ambushed him with quality at-bats, but I felt like mentally he was totally fine. It was just maybe a lack of execution on some pitches.

“(Pitching coach) Kyle (Snyder) and I and even (catcher Mike Zunino) were talking, like, the stuff looked really good. But, again, it’s the Red Sox lineup that deserves a lot of credit.”

Friday’s start was just Baz’s fourth in the majors. And it was clearly his biggest challenge during a year that he started in Double-A, moved to Triple-A, then was chosen to pitch in the All-Star Futures Game and for the U.S. team in the Tokyo Olympics before being promoted to the majors on Sept. 20.

Zunino said the four-pitch walk set a bad tone for Baz.

“That’s the biggest thing, working ahead of guys,” he said. “I’m sure if he could have that at-bat back to sort of change the outcome of that and the momentum of that first inning, I’m sure he could. I thought we did a good job answering back there in the bottom of the first, and he settled in. But it’s a really good offense over there.”

Seeing red

The Red Sox didn’t post their lineup until about an hour before first pitch, waiting to determine whether designated hitter J.D. Martinez, who missed Thursday’s opener with a sore right ankle, was available. And he certainly was, going 4-for-5 with a double and a key three-run home run. ... The Sox also made a league-approved roster change, adding reliever Matt Barnes, who had a team-high 24 saves but none after Aug. 4, to replace Garrett Richards, who was diagnosed with a left hamstring strain. Richards is not eligible for the Championship Series if the Sox advance.

Snack shack

There was some buzz over the TV shots of several Rays eating popcorn in the late innings of Thursday’s series-opening win. The popcorn — a “healthy”-style brand — is one of several snacks typically available in the dugout, along with Honey Stinger Waffles and applesauce in squeeze packets. “Rally applesauce,” Nelson Cruz called it. Other snack options include beef and turkey jerky, dried mango, nuts and banana bread.

Miscellany

• Announced attendance was 37,616, the largest for the Rays at Tropicana Field since June 17, 2016, when they drew 40,135 for a Pride Night game against the Giants.

• Jordan Luplow’s first-inning grand slam was the Rays’ second in postseason play; Hunter Renfroe (now with Boston) hit one in Game 2 of the 2020 AL Wild Card Series against Toronto.

• The Rays are traveling to Boston late Saturday morning, with plans for a light workout at Fenway Park.

• Wander Franco is the first player in major-league history, per STATS LLC, to have multiple extra-base hits in his regular-season and postseason debuts. With Randy Arozarena leading off and Franco hitting second, the Rays were the first team to start rookies in the top two spots of the order for a postseason series opener.

• Longtime Tampa Bay area sports broadcaster and former Rays employee Dick Crippen threw out the ceremonial first pitch; saxophonist BK Jackson, a Trop favorite, again performed the anthem.

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