The Rays and Marlins found themselves in a pitchers’ duel on Friday night at Marlins Park. When it was over, Tampa Bay won the battle as it defeated Miami, 2-0. The Rays have won three in a row and 10 of 12, improving their record to 22-11.
After the Yankees were swept by the Mets in a doubleheader, the Rays lead the American League East by four games.
Rays left-hander Ryan Yarbrough had arguably his best start of the year, going 6 2/3 innings without allowing a run. He was getting by on his fastball, which was clocked in the high 80s.
“We just didn't get a lot going. It's not like we had a lot of chances, either,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said about Yarbrough. “Their guy locates really [well]. He works both sides of the plate with that cutter. He has a little late cutter that you have to be aware of. He did a nice job. We just didn't solve that riddle at all. Didn't have a lot of chances.”
Yarbrough felt like he pitched like his hero, White Sox great Mark Buehrle.
“I didn’t realize how fast the game was moving. It was a very Mark Buehrle-esque game. Just attacking the zone,” Yarbrough said.
But Yarbrough exited the game in the seventh because of left groin tightness. The injury is not considered serious. It’s not known if he will make his next start.
“He has been managing it for quite some time,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We’ll get him looked at, get him some treatment and see how he goes in the next day or two. It’s not a surprise. He has had it over his last couple of outings. He has had the injury in past seasons. He managed it really, really well.”
After the game, Yarbrough said the groin felt better. He just needed to get out of the game after throwing his last two pitches.
“We are trying to be smart. Not trying to make anything really worse, especially where we were at in the game,” Yarbrough said. “I’ll give it a chance to see how it feels tomorrow.”
Marlins top prospect Sixto Sánchez matched Yarbrough, pitching seven shutout innings and striking out 10 batters. His velocity reached as high as 100 mph. But Sánchez didn’t figure in the decision either.
“That was some impressive stuff," Cash said. "He was able to land his offspeed pitches. He established the fastball and he had a wipeout changeup. He is pretty talented."
Rays reliever Pete Fairbanks received the victory when they scored their first run in the eighth inning off two Marlins relievers. With Richard Bleier on the mound, Austin Meadows singled with one out. Two batters later, right-hander Brad Boxberger was on the mound when he allowed a two-out RBI single to Yandy Díaz.
“[The hit] was big for us. We had a reason we didn’t hit,” Cash said. “That guy on the [other side] Sixto Sánchez had some pretty impressive stuff. Good for Yandy for getting the ball he can handle. Not a ton of offense on both teams. It was a well-pitched game. I was encouraged that we could get one across.”
The Rays would add to their lead in the ninth inning when Michael Perez, who was starting after Mike Zunino was a late scratch because of left oblique tightness, hit a two-out RBI single to right field off Josh. A Smith.
“Perez has come up big. He has done a nice job working with the pitchers. That’s priority 1A, B and C,” Cash said. “He follows the game plan with the pitcher. Offensively, he comes off with some big at-bats here late in ballgames.”