Taj Bradley Ties Career High With 11 K’s, Rays Shutout Nationals 5-0

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Taj Bradley Fans 11 As Rays Defeat Nationals 5-0
Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Taj Bradley throws against the Washington Nationals during the first inning of a baseball game, Sunday, June 30, 2024, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Mike Carlson)

St. Petersburg, FL – Taj Bradley (3-4, 3.44 ERA) tied a career high with 11 strikeouts and Isaac Paredes, Jose Caballero, and Randy Arozarena each homered as the Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Washington Nationals 5-0.

Bradley worked 5.2 scoreless innings allowing three hits while striking out 11 and walking three batters. He threw 99 pitches with 67 for strikes. He delivered a first pitch strike to 12 of the 22 batters he faced and had 20 swing and misses.

“Right now we’re talking about every outing, he’s kind of backing it up. This is what the best pitchers in the game do.” Rays Manager Kevin Cash said.” They find a way to stay consistent and at an elite level. I think Taj is pushing the envelope really well towards that.”

Over his last five starts, Bradley has worked to a 1.24 ERA (4ER/29IP) while striking out 40 and walking 12. This comes on the heels of a start at Camden Yards against Baltimore where he allowed 9 earned runs in 3.1-inninga and surrendered four homers.

After the game, Bradley commented on the success of the last five starts, but also reflected on the journey he’s travelled to get where he is today including the disaster start in Baltimore. “This rollercoaster has been a lot. Just mentally being able to overcome a lot of stuff.” He said. “That start in Baltimore would have got to a lot of people but I had a lot of good people in the clubhouse, family stuff like that to push me through.”

After that game in Baltimore he said his friends and family but they weren’t talking about the game five hours after it was over but he was. “Then I was like Get over it. This isn’t going to be the last time I throw a baseball, it’s not going to be the last time you have a game like this. I come in every day and get my work in. Clock in and clock out. My dad always tells me treat it like any other job. People clock in and clock out. They don’t take work home with them.”

With the win the Rays get back to .500 at 42-42 and win their fourth consecutive series. Tampa Bay finishes June with a record of 14-11 and have won five of seven and eight of their last 11 games. Bradley’s start continues a positive trend for the Rays starters. They have permitted two earned runs or less in seven straight games and 10 of their last 11. It was the Rays third shutout of the season.

“I feel like we are getting deep enough in games. We’re having that longer start and we can get aggressive with the bullpen and rely on them and the next day we get a longer start.” Cash remarked. “It’s been synched up really really well. At the end of the day, we have to pitch well to win series and that’s what we’ve been doing.”

Patrick Corbin (1-8, ERA) takes the loss for the Nationals who fall to 39-44. The loss wraps up a nine game ten-day road trip in which the Nationals went 3-6. It was the eighth time the Nationals were shut out this season.

Isaac Paredes led off the second inning with a homer to the seats in left to put the Rays on top 1-0. It was Paredes 13th homer on the season and first since June 25th. After a Jonny Deluca soft single to right, Jose Caballero delivered a line drive two-run homer to left to push the Rays lead to 3-0. It was Caballero’s fifth homer on the season and first since June 12th.

Isaac Paredes just missed his second homer of the game leading off the bottom of the fourth. His fly ball hit the top of the wall and bounced back toward the infield allowing Paredes to scamper to third with a triple. Jose Siri brought him home with a sacrifice fly to put Tampa Bay in front 4-0.

Randy Arozarena hit a solo home run to push the Rays lead to 5-0 in the bottom of the seventh inning. It was Arozarena’s 11th homer of the season and first since June 18th. Arozarena (2-for-4) extended his on-base streak to 14 straight games. During the streak he’s batting .319/.441/.574 ( 15-for-47) with three doubles, three home runs, eight RBI, 7 walks, and four hit by pitch. The Rays improve to 18-1 at-home when he hits a home run since the beginning of last season.

Isaac Paredes (3-for-4) finished the game a single shy of the cycle. He was attempting to become the first player since Rajaj Davis on July 2, 2016 to complete the reverse cycle. More striking, Paredes had an opportunity to complete the reverse cycle with a leadoff hit for hit. ‘It’s funny, he [Paredes] is always yelling triple in batting practice like he’s going to hit one and I roll my eyes.” Cash said. “He got one today so congrats to him.”

Colin Poche retired the lone batter he faced to strand two inherited runners in the sixth. Jason Adam worked a scoreless seventh and Garrett Cleavinger followed with a scoreless eighth. Phil Maton worked a scoreless ninth.