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Mar 30, 2024 7:20 pm

Zack Littell, Rays keep Blue Jays under control

Zack Littell

Zack Littell pitched six shutout innings and Randy Arozarena hit his first home run of the season as the Tampa Bay Rays beat the visiting Toronto Blue Jays 5-1 on Saturday in St. Petersburg, Fla.

Littell (1-0) limited the Blue Jays to four hits and tallied six strikeouts against two walks to notch his first career win over Toronto in four appearances. Arozarena finished 2-for-3 and put Tampa Bay ahead 2-0 in the fifth inning with an opposite-field solo shot off of Blue Jays starter Yusei Kikuchi.

Arozarena stole two bases and scored three runs, while Amed Rosario went 2-for-4 with an RBI for the Rays. Jose Caballero collected two hits and two RBIs as Tampa Bay won its second straight since an 8-2 Opening Day loss on Thursday.

Kikuchi nearly retired the Rays in order in the third inning before a pair of two-out walks set up the game’s first run.

Tampa Bay’s first free pass in the inning came after Kikuchi narrowly missed low on a 2-2 fastball to Arozarena, who took ball four on the next pitch. After Isaac Paredes followed with a full-count walk, Rosario lined an RBI single into left field to plate Arozarena.

Arozarena doubled the Rays’ lead in the fifth inning with his one-out, 366-foot blast. Paredes’ ensuing single chased Kikuchi (0-1), who allowed three runs on six hits while striking out four and walking three over 4 1/3 innings.

Rosario stroked a double down the left-field line off of reliever Trevor Richards, and Caballero’s sacrifice fly to deep left center made it 3-0 Tampa Bay entering the sixth inning.

Toronto broke through in the seventh inning against reliever Colin Poche, putting the first two batters on base before Cavan Biggio legged out a two-out infield RBI single. Rays reliever Phil Maton entered and retired George Springer with two runners on to end the threat.

The benches briefly cleared in the bottom of the seventh inning when Blue Jays pitcher Genesis Cabrera shoved Caballero near third base after Caballero was tagged out to end the inning.

Cabrera appeared to take exception to Cabellero bunting home Arozarena before advancing on Justin Turner’s throwing error. The situation quickly defused, though Cabrera was ejected.

Yandy Diaz’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the eighth closed the scoring.

Ernie Clement’s two hits led Toronto, which was outhit 11-6.

–Field Level Media

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