Homers A-Plenty As Rays Spank Orioles

posted by Steve Carney - 

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So we're counting career homers?

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ST. PETERSBURG (620 WDAE) -- The Tampa Bay Rays hit four home runs, including the first career homer by Nick Ciuffo and a grand slam by Ji-Man Choi as part of a 14-2 drubbing of the Baltimore Orioles Friday night at Tropicana Field.

Long ball gives Snell huge lead early

Tampa Bay jumped on Orioles starter Dylan Bundy in the second, as Willy Adames singled with two out and Jake Bauers worked a walk in front of Ciuffo, who took a 1-0 pitch and dove it into the seats in right for his first career Major League home run.

The Rays added on an inning later as Bundy walked Choi and Tommy Pham with one out.  Joey Wendle grounded into a fielder's choice, erasing Pham, but Kevin Kiermaier picked his teammate up with a blast off the foul pole in right for his seventh home run of the year and third in the last two games.

Tommy Pham made it 7-0 in the fifth with a solo home run, his 17th of the year.

That would  be more than enough offense for Blake Snell, who put up zeroes for the first five innings before allowing a two-run homer to Joey Rickard in the top of the sixth, giving Baltimore it's only runs of the game.

The left-hander would leave after the home run, which ended his streak of 14 consecutive home starts allowing one earned run or fewer, dating back to September 7, 2017, but would earn his 18th win of the season, tying Cleveland's Corey Kluber for the Major League lead.

Tampa Bay pulls away on Choi's slam

The Rays wasted no time in getting both runs allowed back and adding on further as Sean Gilmartin, who replaced Bundy to begin the fifth, gave up a one-out walk to Bauers, followed by a single by Ciuffo and a fielder's choice to Mallex Smith.  Buck Showalter went to Ryan Meisinger to face Matt Duffy, who walked after Smith stole second base, setting up Choi to unload for his second grand slam this season and his seventh home run of the year.

Tampa Bay set the score in the seventh, as they loaded the bases on Luis Ortiz before scoring on a wild pitch, a sacrifice fly by Ciuffo and an infield single from Smith.

The Rays got 1 2/3 innings of one-hit relief from Jaime Schultz, followed by a perfect inning each from Andrew Kittredge and Hunter Wood to end the game.  

The win improves Tampa Bay's record back to a season-best 12 games over .500, while the loss is Baltimore's 100th of the year.  The Orioles are the fastest team in the American League to reach the 100-loss mark (141 games) since the 2003 Detroit Tigers (134 games), and the fastest in Orioles franchise history since moving to Baltimore in 1954.

Saturday's matchup

Tampa Bay Rays (76-64) vs. Baltimore Orioles (41-100), 6:10 p.m. first pitch, with coverage on WDAE beginning at 4:00 with The Inside Pitch presented by Crown Eurocars.

Rays starter - RHP Diego Castillo (3-2, 3.48 ERA)

Orioles starter - RHP David Hess (3-9, 5.27 ERA)

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