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Yarbrough reminds Rays of potential

Lefty backed by 4 homers, including Kiermaier's inside-the-parker
May 23, 2019

CLEVELAND -- Prior to Thursday’s game, Rays manager Kevin Cash noted that the organization hadn’t forgotten how productive and important Ryan Yarbrough was last year. In fact, the Rays were eager to see if the success the left-hander had recently found at Triple-A Durham would carry over into his second

CLEVELAND -- Prior to Thursday’s game, Rays manager Kevin Cash noted that the organization hadn’t forgotten how productive and important Ryan Yarbrough was last year. In fact, the Rays were eager to see if the success the left-hander had recently found at Triple-A Durham would carry over into his second stint with the big league club this season.

But just in case anyone found Yarbrough’s 2018 performance difficult to recall, the southpaw rejoined the club on Thursday and delivered a much-needed refresher, helping Tampa Bay topple the Indians in its four-game series opener at Progressive Field, 7-2.

Box score

“It was great to see Yarbs come back from the work that he put in Durham to get back up here,” Cash said. “I think we all knew it was just a matter of time. He was just impressive.”

Yarbrough, making his first appearance in the Majors since April 24, spun a career-high 7 1/3 frames and limited the Tribe to just two runs. The 27-year-old scattered four hits with one walk and four strikeouts, building upon the 2.14 ERA he posted in 21 innings with Durham.

“I feel like I was throwing pretty well down there,” Yarbrough said. “I was just really trying to build off of it every outing. To have this, continue the trend of really building off what was working well and examine what wasn’t and really get after it in the bullpen in a couple of days [is nice].”

More important, Yarbrough also appeared more like the pitcher who contributed a 3.91 ERA in 147 1/3 innings for Tampa Bay last season, lowering his 2019 season ERA from 8.10 to 6.38 in the victory.

“He got back in the zone and attacked a little bit more,” Cash said. “Last time we saw him, he was just kind of picking off edges here and there and just sort of putting himself in some bad counts. Same thought process, same pitch sequencing, but just committed more to the strike zone [tonight].”

Circle the bases

Tommy Pham, Avisaíl García and Willy Adames each homered off Tribe starter Adam Plutko, but the fourth homer Plutko would allow didn't actually leave the yard.

Kevin Kiermaier’s three-run round-tripper on a fly ball to left-center field came when Indians outfielders Oscar Mercado and Leonys Martin collided on their individual diving attempts. With both fielders down in pain, the ball bounced toward left field, allowing Kiermaier to easily score before anyone could track down the ricochet.

Martin would stay in the game, but Mercado would later exit with a right hip contusion.

“It was tough to take your eye off what had happened,” Cash said. “You wanted to see the guys get up, for sure. It was crazy.”

As for Kiermaier, his fifth homer of the season was his second career inside-the-parker and first since May 31, 2014. It also marked Tampa Bay’s first since Denard Span's against the Red Sox on April 28, 2018.

“I was so confused running the bases,” Kiermaier said. “I didn’t know what the heck happened.”

According to Statcast, the Rays center fielder reached a sprint speed of 29.7 feet per second (30.0 feet per second is considered elite), circling the bases in 15.14 seconds, making it the fastest home-to-home time in the Majors this season, and the second-fastest in Rays history since Statcast began tracking in 2015.

Peanut allergy sidelines Robertson

Rays third baseman Daniel Robertson was forced to exit Thursday’s game in the bottom of the fifth due to a reaction to a peanut allergy.

According to the club, Robertson consumed a sweet potato dish prior to the contest that, unbeknown to him, contained pecans.

“I’m confident he’s going to be fine,” Cash said. “But when you see him out there, you see the way he was looking, it just made the most sense to get him out of the game.”