MIAMI The Rays used power and pitching to sweep the Citrus Series.
Tampa Bay rookie pitcher Alex Colome dazzled in his major league debut, picking up the win in a 5-2 victory against the Miami Marlins on Thursday in front of an announced crowd of 23,199 at Marlins Park. Colome became the seventh pitcher in franchise history to win his major league debut as a starter and first since Jeremy Hellickson on Aug. 2, 2010, against Minnesota.
Five relievers combined to preserve the victory for Colome – Fernando Rodney picked up his 11th save to close it out with a perfect ninth – while Matt Joyce and Troy Loney each homered to lead the offense as Tampa Bay (29-24) increased its winning streak to five games, one short of a season long.
The Rays captured all four meetings against Miami this week to sweep the season series. Tampa Bay has now won 13 of the past 14 meetings between the two in-state franchises.
The victory was the 500th all-time road victory in Rays' franchise history.
After striking out Chris Coghlan looking to open the bottom of the first, Colome immediately pitched himself into trouble walking the next two batters before Marcell Ozuna singled to load the bases with one out. Though Colome next struck out Justin Ruggiano, the third strike got away from catcher Jose Molina allowing Placido Polanco to score on the passed ball.
But from there Colome settled in nicely, retiring 12 of 13 batters and had seven strikeouts through four innings. Colome had retired nine in a row before Nolasco blooped a double down the right field line with one out in the fifth just dropping in front of Matt Joyce. Coghlan then singled to put runners on the corners before Polaco bounced into a 5-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Rays offense, held in check by Nolasco who allowed one hit through five innings, finally perked up in support of their rookie hurler. After Ben Zobrist walked with one out in the sixth, Joyce launched a 1-0 pitch into the right field stands for his ninth home run of the season to propel Tampa Bay into a 2-1 lead.
Pitching with the lead, Colome allowed a lead off single to Derek Dietrich to start the bottom of the sixth, but induced a fly ball by Ozuna and a ground out by Ruggiano on a hit-and-run play. Jake McGee then came in to face retire Greg Dobbs to end the inning with a runner stranded on second base.
Colome finished his first career start allowing five hits, two walks while striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings allowing one unearned run. After throwing just 11 of his first 24 pitches for strikes, Colome ended his night with 96 total pitches, 61 for strikes.
The 24-year-old became the second Rays starting pitcher in franchise history to not allow an earned run in his major league debut, joining Scott Kazmir who went five scoreless innings in his debut on Aug. 23, 2004, in Seattle.
The last American League starting pitcher to not allow an earned run in his major debut was Cleveland's Jeanmar Gomez on July 18, 2010, against Detroit.
Colome's first career win was in jeopardy in the bottom of the eight as the Marlins rallied off Joel Peralta, who walked to batter while an fielding error on first baseman James Loney, who bobbled a ball deep down the first base line off the bat of Dobbs, that loaded the bases with two outs. Josh Lueke then entered the game in relief and promptly walked pinch-hitter Migel Oliva to force home a run before striking out Rob Brantly to end the threat.
Ben Zobrist added some insurance runs in the top of the ninth with a two-run double.