ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — No team does a better job of utilizing the entire roster than the Tampa Bay Rays, who thrive on unselfish contributions by role players such as Francisco Mejía.
Less than 24 hours after his eighth-inning, pinch-hit sacrifice fly drove in the go-ahead run against Baltimore on opening day, the young catcher made his first start of the season and delivered again in Saturday’s 5-3 victory over the Orioles.
“I’ve learned to be ready at any time,” Mejía said through an interpreter.
The 26-year-old is in his second year with the Rays after spending parts of four seasons with Cleveland and the San Diego Padres.
Told that some of his teammates jokingly referred to him as “Mr. Clutch” after he homered and drove in three more runs to help the Rays beat the Orioles for the 14th straight time Saturday, Mejía smiled slightly.
So today they go for the sweep…
“It really doesn’t matter to me,” he said, “as long as I’m part of the team.”
Baltimore Orioles (0-2) vs. Tampa Bay Rays (2-0)
St. Petersburg, Florida; Sunday, 1:10 p.m. EDT
PITCHING PROBABLES: Orioles: Tyler Wells (0-0); Rays: Corey Kluber (0-0)
FANDUEL SPORTSBOOK LINE: Rays -211, Orioles +176; over/under is 8 1/2 runs
BOTTOM LINE: The Tampa Bay Rays will look to sweep a three-game series with a win over the Baltimore Orioles.
Tampa Bay went 100-62 overall and 52-29 at home last season. The Rays averaged 8.2 hits per game last season and totaled 222 home runs.
Baltimore went 52-110 overall and 25-56 on the road last season. The Orioles scored 4.1 runs per game in the 2021 season while allowing 5.9.
INJURIES: Rays: Brendan McKay: 60-Day IL (shoulder), Pete Fairbanks: 60-Day IL (lat), Shane Baz: 10-Day IL (elbow), Tyler Glasnow: 60-Day IL (elbow), Nick Anderson: 60-Day IL (elbow), Yonny Chirinos: 60-Day IL (elbow)
Orioles: None listed.