Baz Shines In Rays’ Final Regular Season Home Game; Team Ties Win Mark Set In 2008

(Photo: Tampa Bay Rays)

ST. PETERSBURG — Shane Baz followed up an impressive debut with what was a more impressive outing on Sunday afternoon.

Granted, the Marlins have a lineup that is nothing like that of the Blue Jays, whom Baz faced and limited to two runs in five innings in picking up the win on Monday.

That fact, however, shall not diminish a sparkling outing in which the 22-year-old right hander blanked Miami over 5 2/3 innings of a 3-2 win at Tropicana Field in the final home game of the regular season.

“I gave a us a chance to win, which is all I am trying to do,” he said. “My fastball location was good. I fell behind with it a couple of times, but when I needed it, it was good.”

After walking Jesus Sanchez with two outs in the fifth, the only walk he has issued in 38 batters faced over his two starts, Baz left to an ovation from an appreciative crowd of 20,826. He allowed three hits and struck out nine.

“He filled up the strike zone and it felt like he got better as the game went on,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash. “I am thrilled with how he has looked in his two starts with us. I don’t know how much more he can do.”

While Baz was shutting down the Marlins, Nelson Cruz drove in two runs and Wander Franco doubled, tripled and scored twice as the home team built a 3-0 lead before holding on.

JT Chargois, Josh Fleming and Nick Anderson followed Baz. Anderson pitched the ninth and allowed a leadoff homer to Lewin Diaz before picking up his first save.

The Rays, who on Saturday night clinched the American League East for the second year in a row and fourth time in club history, picked up their 97th win to tie (2008) for the most in team annals.

“It’s great for this team and I certainly have a ton of respect for the 2008 team,” said Cash.

The Rays will attempt to set the record when they hit the road for the final six games of the season starting Tuesday night at Houston. Following three games with the Astros they will finish up with three in the Bronx against the Yankees next weekend.

Tom Layberger is a contributing writer for and The Tampa Free Press

Tom Layberger has been a sports writer and editor since 1990. Among the companies he has worked for are Beckett Publishing, The Topps Company and Comcast. In addition to being a contributing writer for, Tom also writes for and Tampa Bay Business & Wealth Magazine. A native of the Philadelphia suburbs and a University of South Florida grad, Tom is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation. He resides in Tampa.