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Jeffrey Springs returns, Rays rebound to beat Red Sox

The lefty starter, who had been away from the team as his 5-month-old son was hospitalized, worked four solid innings.
Rays starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs delivers to a Boston Red Sox batter during the second inning of Tuesday's game at Fenway Park.
Rays starting pitcher Jeffrey Springs delivers to a Boston Red Sox batter during the second inning of Tuesday's game at Fenway Park. [ MARY SCHWALM | AP ]
Published Jul. 6|Updated Jul. 6

BOSTON — Jeffrey Springs spent most of the past week at a hospital in St. Petersburg with his wife, Bailey, awaiting word on a diagnosis and prognosis for their 5-month-old son, Stetson.

After some torturous ups and downs, of thinking they were in the clear and then being told to come back for more tests, the couple in the last few days got what they considered good news.

Stetson has an infection in his spinal fluid that can be treated with medicine. After another three weeks or so in the hospital, he can go home.

“It’s definitely been an emotional week, but he’s doing better,” Springs said. “So that’s all that really matters.”

With all that occupying his mind, Springs rejoined the Rays on Tuesday and took his turn in the rotation, pitching the first four innings in their 8-4, bounce-back win over the Red Sox. The victory improved their record to 44-37 at the midpoint of the season.

Springs hadn’t pitched in a game since June 24, missing his start last Thursday and the whole trip to Toronto, slipping over to Tropicana Field a couple times to keep his left arm in shape. He flew to Boston Monday night and is heading back to Florida on Wednesday morning.

His Rays teammates, who had been sending messages of support, were impressed with what he did under the circumstances.

“He’s a gamer,” centerfielder Kevin Kiermaier said. “It’s been a hectic four or five days for him and his wife, a lot’s been on their mind lately. Baseball is already hard enough, but especially when you’ve got things off the field as well. So I tip my hat to him.

“You can tell it’s been on, and still on, his mind. It should be. That’s his little baby out there. … For him to take the mound and do what he did, we all had his back and it’s just a true testament of who he is and what he’s about.”

Knowing Bailey and Stetson were watching the game from the hospital room, Springs drew the letters “STETS” on the back of the mound before his first pitch.

He did okay, giving back the first-inning, 3-0 lead by allowing a pair of home runs, then leaving after four innings, and 82 pitches, with the score tied 3-3.

He talked afterward about his pitching as if nothing was different, noting he needed to be better in putting hitters away. Then, when he talked about Stetson, his voice began to waver, discussing the emotional rollercoaster in the doctors’ search for what was wrong, and his and Bailey’s relief over the prognosis.

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“They’ve got it under control,” Springs said. “They’ve got him on the medicine he needs to be on and stuff, and now it’s just kind of a waiting game. because it takes a little bit to run its course.

“Him being so small, they can only give him so much. We have to stay in the hospital, because if he feels worse we don’t know that, he can’t tell us that. But, yeah, it’s definitely getting better.”

Springs also wanted to thank the Rays organization and his teammates for all they’ve done to help.

The offensive outbreak, after being held to two hits on Monday, seemed an appropriate accommodation as well, as the Rays scored three runs in the first inning and four in the sixth.

Kiermaier had a big night, with a bases-clearing double in the first and a run-scoring fielder’s choice for a season-high four RBIs. Yandy Diaz had three hits, including a pair of doubles, to extend his career-high hitting streak to 10. Wander Franco, who extended his hitting streak to eight, scored three runs.

“Very encouraged just with how the guys swung the bat,” manager Kevin Cash said.

The pitching stepped up also, as the Sox kept battling back — all the way until Jason Adam got the final out with the bases loaded in the ninth.

Reliever Ryan Thompson, in his first game after missing the Toronto series because he is unvaccinated, got the biggest outs after allowing runners to reach second and third to start the fifth. “That was huge,” Cash said, “a huge momentum shift for us.”

But on this night, nothing was bigger than having Springs on the mound, and Stetson doing better.

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