By Joey Johnston
ST. PETERSBURG — Rays LHP Ryan Yarbrough deserved better Friday. But the offense didn't offer much, allowing the Orioles to escape with a 2-0 victory before an announced crowd of 11,354 at Tropicana Field.
"It was a quiet night for us offensively,'' said manager Kevin Cash, whose club managed seven hits against Orioles starter David Hess and three relievers.
But Yarbrough made it interesting. He entered with two outs in the first inning, after Sergio Romo, the "opener'' (reliever-turned-starter). Romo surrendered a run on Danny Valencia's two-out RBI bloop double.
From the jump, Yarbrough was lights-out.
"He was getting guys to swing and miss, not a lot of balls were hitting the barrel,'' Cash said.
Yarbrough pitched seven innings, allowing seven hits, striking out eight and walking none. His only mistake: a 1-and-0 high fastball to the Orioles' Jonathan Schoop, who slammed a one-out homer in the sixth.
"Just a fastball over too much of the plate and he hit it,'' Yarbrough said.
The Rays mounted a ninth-inning rally with Matt Duffy and Mallex Smith one-out singles off RHP Brad Brach. But Daniel Robertson was retired on a soft fly ball to right, then Johnny Field popped out to 1B Chris Davis in foul grounds.
The Rays got a runner to third only twice. Both times, the threats ended in feeble fashion.
In the eighth, Rob Refsnyder led off with a double, then went to third on Brad Miller's rounder. LHP Richard Belier coaxed C.J. Cron into a popup, then struck out Joey Wendle.
In the fifth, Mallex Smith got to third with nobody out. He drew a leadoff walk, was balked to second, then advanced on an errant pickoff attempt. Nothing doing. Hess got two groundouts and a popup.
Welcome back, Alex
Orioles RHP Alex Cobb, who was 48-35 in six major-league seasons with the Rays, returned to the Trop for the first time after being allowed to leave as a free agent.
"I got lost (finding the visiting clubhouse),'' he said. "I didn't know where the weight room was. I didn't know where the food room was. It wasn't as weird coming back as you might think, but I definitely wasn't sure where to go at first.''
Cobb signed a four-year, $57 million deal with the Orioles on March 21 and has twice faced his old team in Baltimore. Friday was a different sensation — maybe like visiting your old home and seeing new people living there.
"When I think of my time with the Rays, many of my teammates are no longer here, so it's hard to relate to the team in that way,'' Cobb said.
With the way the rotation fell, Cobb (1-6, 7.32 ERA) will not pitch this weekend against the Rays, but the Orioles make two more trips to the Trop this season.
Eovaldi returns Tuesday
Rays RHP Nathan Eovaldi, who hasn't pitched in a major-league game since Aug. 10, 2016 with the Yankees, is scheduled to start Tuesday's game at Oakland. Eovaldi, who had arthroscopic elbow surgery in March after being projected as the Rays' No. 2 starter, said he "feels great physically.''
"The results were definitely not what I wanted while I was down there (Triple-A Durham), but I feel ready to go,'' said Eovaldi, who surrendered eight earned runs in four innings during his most recent rehabilitation start.
Eovaldi said it "definitely feels like forever'' since he last started in the majors. After having Tommy John surgery, he was acquired by the Rays and sat out all of 2017, then suffered another elbow setback at the close of spring training this season. Eovaldi said he's capable of a five-inning/90-pitch outing Tuesday.
"This has been a long time in coming for Nate, and I know he's chomping at the bit,'' Cash said. "I'm intrigued to see him.
"We saw the reports from his rehab outings — 96 to 100 (mph) — and I think you'll take that over four or five innings.''
Stanek ready for ‘start’
After tonight, Rays RHP Ryne Stanek said he will be excited to read his statistics.
"I'll have one career major-league start,'' he said. "That's cool.''
Stanek will become the latest reliever to "start,'' shooting for three-six outs before the bullpen kicks in.
"I'll try not to make it any bigger deal than it needs to be,'' Stanek said. "I feel like I'm equipped to handle any situation, whether it's in the first (inning) or seventh.''
Saturday will be different. At 4:10 p.m., Stanek knows he will take the mound. Normally, he doesn't know when (or if) he will pitch on a given night.
"It's actually kind of relaxing just knowing when you're going to play, kind of a nice feeling, I guess,'' Stanek said.
Hats off to Lightning, not in a good way
All along, the Rays embraced the Lightning's NHL playoff run, which came to an end Wednesday at Amalie Arena. During Friday's pregame interview in the Trop's visiting dugout, Orioles manager Buck Showalter emerged wearing an "ALL CAPS'' hat to salute the Washington Capitals, who defeated the Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final.
• OF Carlos Gomez (groin strain) hit two home runs in a simulated game at Port Charlotte on Friday. If all is well after an examination, he will come off the disabled list either today or Sunday.
• RHP Yonny Chirinos (right forearm strain), coming off a 32-pitch outing in a rehab start at Port Charlotte, said he's headed to Triple-A Durham for "a couple'' of starts. He hopes to stretch out to five innings and be ready as a starter when returning to the major-league roster.
• 2B Wendle returned to the lineup after being reinstated from the paternity list. Wendle and his wife, Lindsay, welcomed their son, Jack Joseph, on Tuesday.
• LHP/1B Brendan McKay, the team's first-round selection in 2017, pitched six shutout innings at Port Charlotte on Thursday. That extends his scoreless streak to 23 consecutive innings in eight appearances with Class A teams Port Charlotte and Bowling Green.