ST. PETERSBURG — Rarely has the Rays' perpetual fountain of youth gushed as vigorously as it did Wednesday afternoon.
Four rookie hitters — 1B Jake Bauers, SS Willy Adames, 2B Christian Arroyo and LF Johnny Field — started in the 1-0 triumph against the Jays to complete their fourth sweep of the year. It was the first time Tampa Bay started that many rookie position players in a game since starting five in the 2015 season finale.
Additionally, they used a rookie "opener" on the mound (Wilmer Font), had a rookie pinch-hitter (Joey Wendle), and brought a rookie (Diego Castillo) out of the bullpen for his first big-league win.
And manager Kevin Cash has no intent of easing them into the formidable 16-game stretch that looms, starting tonight at Yankee Stadium.
"It's gonna be probably a little eye-opening for some of them, but saying that, I think Jake, Willy, Diego Castillo and some other young guys, they're gonna handle it all right," Cash said prior to Wednesday's game.
"I'm excited to see it, but I've got confidence with us going in there that they're gonna be excited and they should be excited to play against a really good team and a lot of good players."
Field is fine
Any lingering questions about Field's right knee were answered in the top of the ninth with his leaping catch of a deep Aledmys Diaz fly ball at the left field wall.
Field had missed the previous two games with what he said was a mild knee sprain sustained on Sunday's final play against the Mariners, when he tried to score from first (after being waved home) on a single to shallow right.
"It's one of those things where it just was a little sprained," said Field, who went 0-for-3 with a walk Wednesday. "So after a full day of treating it all day and taking some ibuprofen and stuff, it felt really good (Tuesday) and feels even better today."
* The Rays, who open a four-game series Thursday at Yankee Stadium, have lost 10 consecutive series openers at that ballpark. They're 8-25 at Yankee Stadium dating to Sept. 10, 2014.
* CF Mallex Smith, who had two doubles and scored the lone run Wednesday, has hit safely in seven consecutive games, hitting .565 (13-for-23) in that span.
* For those scoring at home, veteran Blue Jays reliever Tyler Clippard — a Mitchell High alumnus — is on his eighth big-league club, and fourth since the start of the 2017 season. Clippard signed a minor league contract with the Jays on March 7, and was assigned to the opening-day roster March 29.
* Bauers' would-be first major league stolen base has been negated. Upon further review of Tuesday night's game, it was discovered a balk was called on Blue Jays starter Jaime Garcia's first-inning pickoff attempt of Bauers, meaning he was awarded second and advanced to third on a throwing error. He therefore wasn't credited with his first career steal.
Quote of the day
"Our goal was to get him a little deeper than what we've typically done with these openers, because now that we know the (Chris) Archer news (abdominal strain), we've got to pick somebody that can get stretched out a little bit, so I think he's a likely candidate. But he really threw the ball well after that first inning." — Cash on Font, who had the longest scoreless outing of his career (3 1/3 innings) on Wednesday