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Luis Patino, Yandy Diaz deliver for sleep-deprived Rays in win vs. Royals

Diaz homers and doubles as the Rays win for the fifth time in six games.
Rays third baseman Yandy Diaz celebrates with centerfielder Jose Siri after his leadoff home run in the first inning Thursday night against the Royals at Tropicana Field.
Rays third baseman Yandy Diaz celebrates with centerfielder Jose Siri after his leadoff home run in the first inning Thursday night against the Royals at Tropicana Field. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]
Published Aug. 19|Updated Aug. 19

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays returned to Tropicana Field on Thursday morning deprived of shuteye and a series sweep of the Yankees. The bullpen taxed and the everyday players bleary-eyed, they needed a collective jolt.

On this night, a mere 19 hours after a 10-inning walkoff loss in New York, a quality start proved more stimulating than caffeine.

Recalled from Triple-A Durham to provide an extra day’s rest to the starting rotation, right-hander Luis Patino delivered in a 7-1 triumph against the reeling Royals before a crowd of 8,168 at Tropicana Field.

Tampa Bay (63-54), which has won five of its past six, remains tied with Toronto for the American League’s second wild-card spot.

It was Patino’s first win since Oct. 2, 2021. Sixty-three of his 86 pitches were for strikes against Kansas City, which lost its fourth in a row.

“I don’t think it’s fair to expect a (callup) to come in and shut down a major-league team, and he did,” manager Kevin Cash said.

“He was super efficient. I think he probably had more left in the tank, we just couldn’t separate (the lead) early on. … Really, really excited about Luis.”

Making his first big-league start since July 23, Patino, who logged a stint on the injured list due to a left oblique strain earlier this summer, allowed only four hits in 5⅔ innings. He allowed no runner to reach second until the sixth, when he walked cleanup hitter Vinnie Pasquantino after issuing a single to Salvador Perez.

Rays pitcher Luis Patino allows only four hits in 5⅔ innings.
Rays pitcher Luis Patino allows only four hits in 5⅔ innings. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

But beleaguered reliever Collin Poche forced pinch-hitter Brent Rooker to fly out to leftfield, then followed with a perfect seventh.

“Actually, we never catch and pitch together,” said catcher Christian Bethancourt, who had never even caught a Patino bullpen session before Thursday.

“But we’ve been playing video games together, so I just saw him like, ‘Hey, let’s just do it like we’re playing video games. We’re just going to attack hitters and throw strikes and act like you’re playing catch with me.’ "

As for run support, Patino and the pen got all they would need before most of the fans had been seated.

Yandy Diaz continued his mini-surge, sending Royals right-hander Max Castillo’s second pitch of the night into the leftfield seats. The 400-foot blast was the sixth career leadoff home run for Diaz, who provided insurance with a one-out, bases-loaded double in the Rays’ five-run seventh off reliever Brad Keller.

Diaz has a home run, four doubles and eight RBIs in his past four games. But Thursday’s three-RBI night — on an evening when the Rays collected 12 hits —came after a mercilessly brief turnaround; the team’s charter flight didn’t return from the Bronx until around 5 a.m.

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“We were a little surprised,” Diaz said via interpreter Manny Navarro. “We did get home really late, but I think just the adrenaline got everybody going today.”

Yandy Diaz runs toward third base, while the Royals field the ball during the seventh inning.
Yandy Diaz runs toward third base, while the Royals field the ball during the seventh inning. [ JEFFEREE WOO | Times ]

Setting up Diaz’s double, and the onslaught that ensued in the seventh, was heads-up baserunning by a team not noted for it.

With one out and a runner on first, Roman Quinn singled, then got a commanding lead on Royals right-hander Brad Keller. The lead was so profound that when Jose Siri followed with a grounder to shortstop Nicky Lopez, no play could be made on Quinn at second, and Lopez’s throw to first was too late.

“Just very, very heads-up,” Cash said. “We weren’t knocking the ball all over the place … but for Roman to bust it to second (base) and Siri to bust it down the line allowed us to open it up.”

Diaz’s bases-loaded double followed. Brandon Lowe, mired in a 1-for-24 swoon, followed Diaz’s hit with a run-scoring single to center. Randy Arozarena then delivered a sharp fly to the rightfield wall to score Diaz, and a Keller wild pitch scored Lowe.

Diaz exited the game with left knee soreness after rounding third base hard during the inning. He’ll get a preplanned day off today but said he would be available off the bench.

“It had been a few days since I’ve been feeling something there,” Diaz said. “But when I was decelerating after I hit the base, that’s when I felt it the most.”

Nothing a little rest likely won’t cure. But as Thursday’s effort proved, rest is overrated.

“It’s tough, man, it’s tough,” Quinn said. “We got back like, 4 o’clock, 4:30 last night, I don’t even remember; it was a blur. After a tough loss (Wednesday) night, to be able to bounce back and play like we did (Thursday), it says a lot.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls.

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