Bauers Makes MLB Debut As Rays Lose Seventh Straight

Brad Miller designated for assignment to make room for Bauers

The Rays’ season might be largely about introducing the fans of St. Petersburg’s team to a new class of talented ballplayers, but none of the prospects has loomed larger than Jake Bauers.  Since it was clear the youth movement was underway, people have been waiting for Bauers to come up and make his MLB debut.

More than Willy Adames, Yonny Chirinos, or Christian Arroyo, Bauers’ potential to be a classic big bat at first base has had people waiting on the young left-handed hitter.  On June 7, 2018, the Jake Bauers Era began.  Bauers was brought up and put into the lineup right away, hitting sixth and playing first base.

Bauers flew out to left field in his first at bat as a Major League player.  In all, he was 0-4 on the night with a strikeout in the bottom of the ninth to top it off.  Welcome to the big leagues, sometimes it can be a tough introduction.

The Rays used the opener again in Ryne Stanek and got seven strong innings in “relief” from Austin Pruitt.  The bats struggled against starter Mike Leake, who got through eight full innings, but the Rays put up three in the bottom of the ninth in a dramatic finish.  The Mariners took the 5-4 win by the skin of their teeth, with Tampa Bay taking their seventh straight loss in the process.

To make room for Bauers, the Rays chose to designate Brad Miller for assignment.  It was a tough call to make, as Miller when he’s on can provide a capable MLB bat, but the Rays need to continue moving on with their young players to build for a potential breakthrough in 2019.

It was another installment of a Bullpen Day and an appearance by an opener rather than a starter.  This time, it was Ryne Stanek getting opener duties.  Stanek threw a lot of pitches and had some issues getting outs, but he got through the first inning clean with two strikeouts alongside two walks and a base hit.  It’s all about getting the Rays to 27 outs, and he got the first three successfully.

However, Austin Pruitt was not so lucky.  He came in for the second inning, with Kevin Cash hoping he could eat the bulk of the game if he started with the bottom of the Seattle order.  Right away the Mariners got to him, as Denard Span walked in his first at bat back at the Trop since being traded from the Rays and came around to score on a Dee Gordon sacrifice fly.  In all, Seattle would end up with three runs in the second inning on three hits, a walk, and a run scoring on a throwing error.

Pruitt’s long night would continue in the third, giving up a homer to Denard Span.  Span took the first pitch of the at bat over the right field fence to make it 4-0 Seattle in the third inning.  It was his first official at bat in the Trop since being traded, and he made the Rays pay for their decision in that moment.

Pruitt would later surrender a home run to Mitch Haniger.  In all, the young righty gave up five runs on seven hits over seven innings, three of each coming in his first inning of work. Pruitt might not have gotten the start, but he did a good job of saving the bullpen for the weekend in pitching seven innings.  He gave up five runs on seven hits, but only threw 93 pitches through his seven innings of work.  It was a gutty outing that saved the bullpen.

The four-game set continues Friday night at 7:10 as the Rays head into another bullpen day.  Wilmer Font is scheduled to be the opener, and don’t expect him to get more than five outs tops on Friday night.  This is where Pruitt’s seven innings pay off, with a more rested bullpen ready to take on the challenge of another bullpen-based outing.

Tim Williams has been covering sports since his days as a student at Northeastern University covering events such as the Beanpot. In the thirteen years since, he has covered college hockey, the NFL, Major League Baseball, the PGA Tour, and the National Hockey League. A native of the Tampa Bay area, Tim has returned home after living much of his life in the northeast, including sixteen years in the Boston area. These days the Managing Editor of Sports Talk Florida can be found on Florida's golf courses when he's not working.