Baz’s 5 2/3 scoreless innings helps Rays sweep Marlins 3-2

Sep 26, 2021, 1:16 AM | Updated: 2:22 pm
Tampa Bay Rays starter Shane Baz pitches against the Miami Marlins during the sixth inning of a bas...

Tampa Bay Rays starter Shane Baz pitches against the Miami Marlins during the sixth inning of a baseball game Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

(AP Photo/Steve Nesius)

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Rookie Shane Baz pitched 5 2/3 scoreless innings to win his second straight start and the AL East champion Tampa Bay Rays beat the Miami Marlins 3-2 Sunday for their team-record 14th series sweep.

Baz (2-0), a 22-year-old right-hander who was on the U.S. Olympic team, allowed three hits, struck out nine and walked one. He gave up two runs and two hits — both homers — over five innings to beat Toronto in his big league debut on Sept. 20 following his call-up from Triple-A Durham.

Baz is trying to earn a postseason roster spot.

“I’m just trying to pitch as well as I can, and leave it up to everybody else,” Baz said. “Trying to just not think about that at all.”

Nelson Cruz had two RBIs for the Rays, who on Saturday night clinched their second consecutive division title and fourth since 2008. The defending AL champions at 97-59 are also closing on securing the best record in the league.

“They play extremely hard,” Marlins manager Don Mattingly said. “They’re aggressive. They do a lot of things. They have some speed, they’ve got some power. They can go right, left on you. A lot of different looks out of the bullpen. Kind of Rays’ baseball.”

Tampa Bay is a franchise-best 38 games over .500 and matched the 2008 AL championship team for most wins in a season.

Rays rookie Wander Franco doubled in the first off Jesús Luzardo to extend his on-base streak to 41 games, two from tying Frank Robinson in 1956 for the longest stretch by a player under 21.

Nick Anderson, the third Tampa Bay reliever, got his first save this season despite allowing Lewin Díaz’s leadoff homer in the ninth. The Rays have had a major league-record 14 pitchers earning save this season.

Anderson, last year’s closer, started the season on the IL with a sprained right elbow and didn’t return from the injured list until Sept. 12.

Miami got an run-scoring double from Eddy Alvarez, Baz’s Olympic teammate. The Marlins are 3-17 in interleague play after entering the season with 212 interleague victories, fourth-most in the majors.

Baz retired his first nine batters, six on strikeouts, before Jazz Chisholm Jr. opened the fourth with a ground ball single to center. Chisholm also doubled in the sixth.

“He’s a tremendous pitcher, he’s a tremendous friend, he’s a tremendous person. he’s a great teammate,” Franco said through an interpreter. “We’ve been able to play together a lot in the minor leagues and I think that talent that he’s got he’s going to be able to play for a long time.”

Franco scored on Yandy Díaz’s sacrifice fly during a two-run first. He tripled against Zach Pop in fifth and scored to make it 3-0 on Cruz’s single. Cruz also had a first-inning sacrifice fly.

Alvarez made it 3-1 on his double in the seventh off JT Chargois. Josh Fleming, recalled from Durham on Saturday after being sent down in late August to covert from starting to relieving, entered with two on and two outs and got a first-pitch grounder from Chisholm.

Luzardo (5-9) gave up two runs, two hits, two walks with five strikeouts over four innings.

REUNION

Alvarez struck out on a 3-2 pitch in the third and hit a fifth-inning opposite-field fly ball on the warning track in left against Baz.

FINAL WEEK

The Rays end the regular season with a six-game trip at Houston and the New York Yankees, two potential playoff opponents.

“You’re talking about two clubs that we could be seeing and workloads that we’ve tried to balance all season long with pitchers,” Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash said. “There will be a lot of discussion game to game on not letting these guys get too many looks at our pitchers but also the balance of resting guys and freshening them up.”

TRAINER’S ROOM

Marlins: SS Miguel Rojas (toe) didn’t play. … RHP Pablo López (right rotator cuff) had a 21-pitch bullpen session.

Rays: LHP Cody Reed (thoracic outlet syndrome surgery) struck out two in a scoreless inning Saturday night for Triple-A Durham. He has given two hits and fanned seven over four shutout innings in four rehab games. … RHP Matt Wisler (right middle finger inflammation) threw off a bullpen mound.

UP NEXT

Marlins: LHP Trevor Rogers (7-8) will start one game of a doubleheader Tuesday at the New York Mets.

Rays: RHP Michael Wacha (3-5) will face Houston on Tuesday night.

___

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Baz’s 5 2/3 scoreless innings helps Rays sweep Marlins 3-2