ST. PETERSBURG — The Bird Basher was at it again Sunday.
Rays designated hitter Randy Arozarena crashed a three-run homer that provided the cushion in a 4-1 victory against the Orioles at Tropicana Field. The story was Drew Rasmussen’s flirtation with a perfect game, but Arozarena’s big hit couldn’t be diminished.
“Three-run homers are cool,’’ manager Kevin Cash said. “He picked us up in a big way.’’
It was a no-doubter, a 402-foot shot off Orioles right-hander Jordan Lyles in the third. After the impact, Arozarena pounded his chest, tossed aside his bat, glared into the Rays dugout, then began his methodical journey around the bases.
“It felt good,’’ Arozarena said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “Obviously as soon as I hit it, I knew it was gone.’’
It was Arozarena’s 15th home run, breaking a tie for the team lead with Isaac Paredes. Arozarena, who has homered in three of his past four games, has a .991 OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging percentage) over 10 games in August.
In 37 career games against the Orioles, Arozarena is batting .372 (55-for-148) with 15 homers and 38 RBIs.
Wander Franco off to Triple-A Durham
Shortstop Wander Franco said he will go to Triple-A Durham on Tuesday to begin rehabilitation games as he recovers from a fractured hamate bone in his right hand that has sidelined him since July 10.
Franco, a switch-hitter, took batting practice on the field before Sunday’s game. He said he’s feeling much better, although not 100 percent while batting from the right side.
“Obviously it has been frustrating,’’ Franco said via Navarro. “But I think you’ve just got to keep your head up. I’ve never had injuries like this, especially two in one season, but hopefully everything goes well.’’
Ryan Yarbrough on tap tonight vs. Yankees
Left-hander Ryan Yarbrough will either start or work behind an opener Monday night against the Yankees, the start of a three-game series in New York. It’s a good site for Yarbrough, who worked a 113-pitch complete game there on June 3, 2021. Overall, Yarbrough has been excellent at Yankee Stadium, going 3-1 with a 2.55 ERA, five walks and 19 strikeouts in five appearances.
Sunday afternoon was USF Day at the Rays. University president Rhea Law threw the ceremonial first pitch, and Rays ace Shane McClanahan, a former Bull, delivered a video message to welcome the USF alumni in attendance. … After going 18-1 against the Orioles last season, the Rays won the season series 10-9. Should the Rays and Orioles tie — with Game 163 no longer an option in the revised postseason format — that will be a playoff tiebreaker. … Rasmussen’s pitches by innings: 10-12-6-10-6-10-9-16-8. … Jorge Mateo’s ninth-inning double ended Rasmussen’s streak of 0-for-34 vs. opposing hitters, dating back to his previous start against Detroit. The Rays record had been 0-for-31 by Jake Odorizzi (May 24-29, 2016). … Had Rasmussen gotten the first two batters in the ninth, Rasmussen would have been scheduled to face ninth-place batter Brett Phillips, the former Ray. … Rasmussen pitched the first perfect game in Oregon State University baseball history, beating Washington State on March 21, 2015. … Since the franchise moved to Baltimore in 1954, the Orioles have never had a perfect game thrown against them. They have been no-hit seven times. … Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe missed all three games against the Orioles due to a shoulder injury but said he should be ready to go Monday night against the Yankees. … The Rays were scheduled to be in New York on Sunday night, well before the Yankees, who played a Sunday night game in Boston.
• • •
Sign up for the Rays Report weekly newsletter to get fresh perspectives on the Tampa Bay Rays and the rest of the majors from sports columnist John Romano.