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Injury mars breakout game for Bemboom

Rays rookie gets 1st hit, RBI, but left knee sprain to shelve him
@juanctoribio
May 16, 2019

MIAMI -- It turned out to be a bittersweet game for Anthony Bemboom. The night started out with joy after Bemboom connected on his first big league hit, an RBI double in the second inning off Marlins starter Jose Urena that ended up being the decisive run in the Rays’

MIAMI -- It turned out to be a bittersweet game for Anthony Bemboom.

The night started out with joy after Bemboom connected on his first big league hit, an RBI double in the second inning off Marlins starter Jose Urena that ended up being the decisive run in the Rays’ 1-0 win on Wednesday at Marlins Park.

After going hitless in his debut on Sunday, the 29-year-old made his presence felt, going 2-for-2 and helping the Rays' pitching staff complete its second consecutive shutout and fifth of the season.

Box score

But unfortunately for Bemboom, the night ended with the rookie having to leave in the sixth inning with a left knee sprain. Bemboom said he suffered the injury in the bottom of the fifth on a move that he said he has made “1,000 times” in his career. He was replaced by Travis d'Arnaud when his spot came up in the batting order in the seventh inning.

“It’s a little tough,” Bemboom said after the game. “Obviously, everything you can do to help the team win is great, and I’m excited about that. But also, anytime you’re not on the field, it’s kind of tough not being able to help your team win and be available.”

Bemboom said he felt “relief” to get his first big league hit, but it was difficult to fully enjoy it because of the way his night ended.

“To see Bemboom come through with his first knock and end up being the game-winner, that was pretty awesome,” Rays reliever Emilio Pagán said. “Bemboom is a great guy and I’m happy for him. Hopefully he’s OK.”

After playing eight years in the Minor Leagues, Bemboom admitted that he occasionally wondered if he would ever get an opportunity to help a team at the big league level.

Bemboom had stints with the Angels’ and the Rockies’ organizations but never got an opportunity to play in the Major Leagues. After spending the 2018 season with the Rockies’ Triple-A Albuquerque team, Bemboom decided to sign with the Rays on a Minor League deal in hopes of finding a path to the big league level.

With catcher Mike Zunino (quad) and Michael Perez (oblique) both on the injured list, Bemboom finally got the opportunity, receiving his callup last Friday. But now it appears that Bemboom will join Zunino and Perez on the injured list.

“It’s frustrating,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I feel for him simply because I think he’s going to miss some time here. He has a knee sprain. He got it pretty good, and we’re going to have some doctors look at it.”

With Bemboom going on the injured list, it’s expected that Nick Ciuffo will join d’Arnaud as the two catchers on the active roster.

Pagan escapes
The Marlins had multiple opportunities to tie or take the lead on Wednesday, but perhaps none was better than in the sixth inning, when they had runners on second and third with no outs and Pagan on the mound.

Pagan opened the inning with a walk to Garrett Cooper, followed by a double by catcher Jorge Alfaro. But then Pagan said he changed his approach, going from throwing multiple cutters to relying on his fastball.

“I feel like I threw some decent pitches, but they just put some good swings on them,” Pagan said. “I kinda understood that they were sitting offspeed a little bit. Me and Bemboom kind of noticed that, and we kind of stuck with my fastball there.”

With the new approach, Pagan was able to get Jon Berti to strike out looking before getting Rosell Herrera to pop up for the second out. Now that Pagan had the fastball command working, he decided to go back to the cutter against Martin Prado, striking out the Marlins' infielder looking on the pitch.

“Once I got Prado sped up enough, I was able to drop that cutter back in there to get out of it,” Pagan said. “Obviously it was a huge part of the game, and it was a lot of fun competing against those guys. They put together some really good at-bats, and I’m glad I got out of it.”

Juan Toribio covers the Rays for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @juanctoribio.