In-game adjustment puts Patiño on attack

Rookie holds powerful White Sox in check for 6 innings in 'outstanding bounce-back' start

August 21st, 2021

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Rays rookie right-hander was efficient and very much in control on Saturday afternoon. And that’s exactly the version of Patiño that the Rays need going down the stretch in the American League East.

On Tyler Glasnow bobblehead day at Tropicana Field, another stark reminder that the Rays must finish their season without their injured ace, Patiño performed like a front-line starter in an 8-4 victory over the White Sox.

• Box score

“He gave us everything we could’ve asked for,’’ Rays manager Kevin Cash said.

Patiño (3-3), acquired as part of the offseason deal that sent Blake Snell to the Padres, allowed five hits and two runs over 91 pitches in six innings. He struck out five and walked just one, an important statistic because his control had regressed (career-high five walks in three innings) during his last start.

“Kyle [Snyder, pitching coach] and I go back and forth when the approach is off … he’s 21,’’ Cash said. “It’s going to go away sometimes. What’s impressive is that he recognized that he needed to make some adjustments, ultimately just get the ball in the zone more, rely on his fastball, and he did. He pitched in the top of the zone with it and got plenty of fly balls. Just an outstanding bounce-back performance for him.’’

This was a much different-looking Patiño. He threw first-pitch strikes to 13 of his 23 batters and went to ball three on just four of them (ironically, opening the game with three straight balls to White Sox leadoff batter Cèsar Hernández before coaxing a groundout).

“Yeah, I actually yelled at myself in my own head [after the three balls to Hernández],’’ Patiño said. “I told myself not to run away, just attack these guys. After a couple of pitches as well, I said, ‘Hey, I’m the best player out there.’ You know, no disrespect to any of those guys, but that was the mentality I had, and I wanted to keep it positive.’’

Cash said Patiño’s approach -- about 75 percent fastballs -- worked well against the White Sox.

“Yeah, that was definitely the plan,’’ Patiño said. “The plan was to kind of attack the hitters. Today, I felt like my fastball was actually very, very good. I felt very in control with it. So I just adjusted in the middle of the game according to the way their batters looked, and the fastball seemed to work.’’

The Rays never trailed, jumping out to a 3-0 lead on White Sox starter Dallas Keuchel in the first inning on ’s two-out RBI double that nearly looked like an inning-ending grounder. It hit the third-base bag and hopped high over the head of Yoán Moncada into left field. Brandon Lowe followed with a two-run double.

Patiño’s run support continued in the third on Joey Wendle’s RBI single. The Rays made it 6-1 in the fifth when Franco beat out an infield hit, then scored on Manuel Margot’s two-out RBI double, scurrying home with an emphatic head-first slide into home plate, which caused him to face plant and lie in the clay for a few minutes. He was OK.

With Patiño back on his game, so were the Rays.

“Man, he [Franco] plays hard,’’ Cash said. “He plays really hard. It’s fun to watch. Getting out of the box, running bases, it’s just max effort all the time. It’s pretty refreshing. We’ve got a bunch of guys who do that. He has fit right in with that.’’

The White Sox cut it to 6-4 in the eighth, but the Rays answered with two more in their half with Margot collecting another RBI double and Wendle knocking in a run with a grounder. Collin McHugh picked up his first save with 1 2/3 innings of shutout ball.