ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — The Rays returned Thursday to Tropicana Field deprived of shuteye and a series sweep of the Yankees. The bullpen taxed and the everyday players bleary-eyed, they needed a collective jolt.
On this night, a mere 19 hours after a 10-inning walk-off loss in The Bronx, a quality start proved more stimulating than caffeine.
Recalled from Triple-A Durham to provide an extra day’s rest to the starting rotation, right-hander Luis Patino delivered in a 7-1 triumph against the reeling Royals (48-72) before a Tropicana Field audience of 8,168. Tampa Bay (63-54), winner of five of its last six, is one game behind Seattle (65-54) for the American League’s top wild-card spot.
Making his first big league start since July 23, Patino allowed only four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He allowed no runner to reach second until the sixth, when he walked cleanup hitter Vinnie Pasquantino after issuing a single to Salvador Perez.
But beleaguered left-handed reliever Collin Poche forced pinch-hitter Brent Rooker to fly out to left field and followed with a perfect seventh.
As for run support, Patino and the pen got all it would need before most of the fans had been seated.
Third baseman Yandy Diaz continued his mini-surge, sending Royals right-hander Max Castillo’s second pitch of the night into the left-field seats. The 400-foot blast was the sixth career leadoff home run for Diaz, who provided insurance with a one-out, bases-loaded double in the Rays’ five-run seventh off right-handed reliever Brad Keller.
Diaz has a homer, four doubles and eight RBIs in his last four contests.
Second baseman Brandon Lowe, mired in a 1-for-24 swoon, followed Diaz’s hit with a run-scoring single to center field. Randy Arozarena then delivered a sharp fly to the right-field wall to score Diaz, and a Keller wild pitch scored Lowe.
The Royals’ lone run came on second baseman Michael Massey’s leadoff home run in the eighth, snapping Kansas City’s scoreless-innings streak at 33. Rays catcher Christian Bethancourt got the run back with a one-out solo homer — his sixth — in the bottom of the inning.©2022 Tampa Bay Times. Visit at tampabay.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.