ST. PETERSBURG — The star-crossed season of Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough — including an early-season injured-list stint that cost him 23 games and three trips to Triple-A Durham — has mostly been one to forget.
But Yarbrough, who pitches in a bulk role following opener Shawn Armstrong on Saturday night against the Rangers at Tropicana Field, remains hopeful that he can be one of the pitching staff’s key figures down the stretch.
“It’s all about how you finish, not really how you start,” said Yarbrough, who is 1-8 with a 4.38 ERA in 18 games (nine starts). “So I’m just really focusing on that.”
But Yarbrough is coming off a valuable outing last Sunday against the Yankees, who knocked starter Luis Patino from the box after just 1 1/3 innings by scoring nine earned runs. Yarbrough, originally scheduled to start the next day in Toronto, helped to preserve the bullpen by pitching the final five innings, shutting out the Yankees on three hits.
“I know a lot of guys, especially in the bullpen, were appreciative of it because of the long stretch of games we have,’’ Yarbrough said. “You’ve just got to be ready whenever they need you.’’
Yarbrough said resilience has been mandatory this season.
“You just try to focus on your outing at that point and let things unravel as they happen afterward,’’ Yarbrough said. “As soon as you start thinking about those things (potentially being sent down to Triple-A), it doesn’t really seem to go in your favor. So you really try to block it out — as hard as that can be.”
The Rays reinstated left-handed reliever Brooks Raley from the restricted list. He was not vaccinated for COVID-19 and not allowed to travel to Toronto and missed out on $93,407 of his salary.
Meanwhile, the Rays optioned right-hander Kevin Herget to Triple-A Durham, the same destination for first baseman/outfielder Bligh Madris, who was claimed off waivers from the Pirates, and left-hander Josh Fleming, who was optioned Thursday.
To make room for Madris on the 40-man roster, the Rays transferred right-handed reliever Ryan Thompson (right triceps inflammation) to the 60-day injured list.
Mejia gets hot
Rays catcher Francisco Mejia snapped an 0-for-11 skid by going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles and two RBIs.
“I definitely feel a lot more comfortable,” Mejia said via team interpreter Manny Navarro. “I hadn’t been feeling too comfortable recently, but all the work in the cage is making me feel comfortable.”
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“He’s in a position where he’s probably catching more than he has in the past and that takes a toll physically obviously,” pitcher Corey Kluber said. “But I think he has been good all year. He’s putting together some good at-bats.”
Since Aug. 13, the Rays are 14-3 at home (with three one-run defeats). Overall, they are 26-23 in one-run games and 20-8 at home. … Rays radio broadcaster Dave Wills, who was under the weather at Toronto, is headed back home. No word on when he will rejoin the broadcasts. … Latino Sports, a sports writer organization, presented its American League Rookie of the Year Awards to Randy Arozarena (2020) and Wander Franco (2021). For the first time in the organization’s 32-year history, a team had back-to-back winners. … Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe was recognized as the organization’s nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award. Lowe wasn’t present because he’s out of town getting a second opinion on his back injury.
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