Zunino, Diaz Removed In Rays’ Loss To Orioles

ST. PETERSBURG — The Rays hope they did not lose more than a game to the Orioles on Monday night.

Mike Zunino (left hip flexor tightness) and Yandy Diaz (neck spasms) were removed during a 6-1 loss at Tropicana Field.

“Hopefully, he and Yandy are both alright,” said manager Kevin Cash. “(Zunino) will get treatment and we will see how he is (Tuesday) morning. Hopefully, both are day-to-day.”

Cash said Zunino could have continued playing, but the thing to do was be on the safe side and remove the all-star catcher.

Zunino, who said he felt the problem running out of the batter’s box on a grounder to short in the second inning, indicated he should have a better idea Tuesday.

Diaz, serving as the DH, was removed in the sixth when Vidal Brujan pinch-hit for him.

“I am feeling pretty confident I will not need much time,” said Zunino, who was removed after three innings. “I think (coming out of the game) was a safe thing to do. I wanted to stay ahead of it.”

The Rays, who slipped to 1.5 games behind Boston, could not get ahead of Baltimore pitcher Spencer Watkins. The 28-year-old righthander made his MLB debut earlier this month and was appearing in his fourth game, third start. He limited the Rays to five hits and one run in six innings while striking out seven.

“Watkins threw a good ballgame,” said Cash. “He had a good fastball and a unique cutter that kept us off balance.”

The Orioles, who won a season-high third straight game for a fifth time, took a 2-0 lead in the first when Rays starter Ryan Yarbrough allowed two-strike hits to the game’s first three batters. He threw 32 pitches in that first first inning.

Yarbrough (6-4) settled down and allowed only two hits over the next four innings. However, with the score still 2-0, Baltimore broke it open with four runs in the sixth.

Light-hitting Pat Valaika and Kelvin Gutierrez, the eighth and ninth batters, did most of the damage and did so with two outs. The former had a two-run single to make it 5-0 and the latter drove in the Orioles’ final run with a single.

“He did a nice job recovering from the first and getting his pitch count back in order,” said Cash. “They kind of tacked on in the sixth and he couldn’t make that one pitch to end the inning.”

The Rays, who were 6-0 against the Orioles, scored their only run in the sixth when Randy Arozarena doubled home Austin Meadows.

The three-game series with Baltimore resumes Tuesday night when Shane McClanhan is opposed by John Means, who returns from a shoulder strain that had him sidelined since June 5.

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 sportstalkflorida.com, Tom also writes for forbes.com 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.