Kluber looks good, Rays beat Orioles 8-0 to complete sweep

Baltimore Orioles v Tampa Bay Rays
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – As much as the Tampa Bay Rays wanted Corey Kluber to have a shot at getting the victory in the pitcher’s debut with his new team, keeping the two-time Cy Young Award winner fresh and healthy is a bigger priority.

The 36-year-old right-hander looked good in his first game since joining the defending AL East champions, pitching 4 2/3 scoreless innings in an 8-0 victory that completed an opening sweep of the Baltimore Orioles on Sunday.

“I didn’t really control counts the way I’d like to eventually,” Kluber said. “But at the end of the day, I made good pitches when I needed to to keep them off the scoreboard.”

Brandon Lowe hit a two-run homer off Tyler Wells (0-1), while Wander Franco had his second three-hit game in three days and drove in a pair of runs as the Rays beat the Orioles for the 15th straight time and matched the fastest start to a season in club history.

Tampa Bay, which is 21-1 against the Orioles since the beginning of last year, also started 3-0 in 2002 and 2012.

Coming off a 110-loss season, Baltimore is 0-3 for the first time since 2007. The Orioles never led in the series, struck out 37 times – most through three games of a season in franchise history – and went 2-for-24 with runners in scoring position.

“They have really good pitching, but we didn’t do a very good job swinging the bats. We didn’t make them work much,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “We can improve our two-strike hitting, put more pressure on their defense. We have some guys scuffling early. I’d like to see them break out. We’re putting too much pressure on ourselves.”

Kluber, pitching on his birthday for the first time in his career, allowed three hits, walked four and struck out five in an 87-pitch outing. Sailing along with a 4-0 lead, he retired the first two batters in the fifth inning before walking Cedric Mullins and giving up a single to Ryan Mountcastle.

Manager Kevin Cash, who said before the game that one of his priorities this season will be managing Kluber’s workload and keeping the oldest player on his roster healthy, didn’t hesitate to turn to the bullpen.

Kluber went 5-3 with a 3.83 ERA in 16 starts with the New York Yankees last season, when he also spent three months on the injured list with a right shoulder strain. The Rays signed him to an $8 million, one-year deal during the offseason.

“We’d like all of our guys to get out there and pencil in 30 starts. But saying that, you have to manage the workload,” Cash said.

“I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but the days of throwing 220 innings are probably not there any more,” the manager added. “He understands that.”

Kluber, who won Cy Young Awards with Cleveland in 2014 and 2017, wasn’t upset with the manager’s decision.

“I don’t really concern myself with the workload or pitch count. I view it as I’m going to keep going out there until he takes the ball from me,” Kluber said. “I try to take it hitter by hitter and not try to look at the big picture like that.”

Lefty Jeffrey Springs (1-0) came on to get the only batter he faced to end the fifth. Jason Adam, Jalen Beeks and Matt Wisler held the Orioles scoreless the rest of the way, finishing a combined six-hitter.

Wells made his first major league start for the Orioles and didn’t get through the second inning. The Rays loaded the bases with two walks and an infield single, then chased the 27-year-old right-hander with Mike Zunino‘s sacrifice fly, Manuel Margot‘s RBI grounder and Lowe’s 437-foot homer to right-center.

Franco’s two-run single highlighted a four-run seventh against relievers Bryan Baker and Paul Fry. Franco joined Quinton McCracken in 1998 and Steve Cox in 2001 as the only Rays with muiltiple three-hit games during the first three games of a season,

Wells, 2-3 with a 4.11 ERA in 44 relief appearances as a rookie last season, threw 54 pitches and allowed four runs and three hits. He walked two and struck out two.


Orioles: Hyde said right-handed reliever Dean Kremer strained his left oblique muscle warming up in the bullpen during the game.

Rays: CF Kevin Kiermaier was not in the lineup, however Cash said it was a day of rest and not related to injury. The team is beginning the season with a stretch of 13 games in 13 days.


Orioles: Return to Baltimore for home opener vs. Milwaukee. LHP Bruce Zimmermann (4-5, 5.04 ERA in 2021) gets the start, with the Brewers countering with RHP Adrian Houser (10-6, 3.22).

Rays: A seven-game homestand continues with RHP Luis Patino (5-3, 4.31 in 2021) starting the first of four games vs. Oakland. RHP Paul Blackburn (1-4, 5.87) takes the ball first for the Athletics.

Anthony Volpe, 21, wins Yankees’ starting shortstop job

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TAMPA, Fla. — Anthony Volpe grew up watching Derek Jeter star at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

Now, the 21-year-old is getting the chance to be the Yankees’ opening day shortstop against the San Francisco Giants.

The team announced after a 6-2 win over Toronto in spring training that Volpe had won the spot. New York manager Aaron Boone called the kid into his office to deliver the news.

“My heart was beating pretty hard,” said Volpe, rated one of baseball’s best prospects. “Incredible. I’m just so excited. It’s hard for me to even put into words.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman, hitting coach Dillon Lawson and bench coach Carlos Mendoza were also present.

Volpe was able to share the news with his parents and other family members near the Yankees’ dugout and said it is something he will never forget.

“It was pretty emotional,” Volpe said. “It was just an unbelievable moment to share with them.”

Volpe, who grew up a Yankees fan, lived in Manhattan as a child before moving to New Jersey. Jeter was his favorite player.

“It’s very surreal,” Volpe said. “I’ve only ever been to games at Yankee Stadium and for the most part only watched him play there.”

Volpe is hitting .314 with three homers, five RBIs and a .417 on-base percentage in 17 Grapefruit League games. He has just 22 games of experience at Triple-A.

Spring training started with Volpe, Oswald Peraza and holdover Isiah Kiner-Falefa competing for the everyday shortstop job. Kiner-Falefa was shifted into a utility role midway through camp, and Peraza was optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Sunday evening.

“While certainly the performance was there, he killed it between the lines,” Boone said of Volpe. “All the other things that we’ve been hearing about showed up. There’s an energy he plays the game with, and an instinct that he has that is evident. He really checked every box that we could have had for him. Absolutely kicked the door in and earned his opportunity.”

Volpe arrived in Florida in December to work out at the Yankees’ minor league complex.

“He’s earned the right to take that spot, and we’re excited for him and excited for us,” Cashman said. “He just dominated all sides of the ball during February and March, and that bodes well obviously for him as we move forward.”

Volpe was selected out of high school with the 30th overall pick in the 2019 draft from Delbarton School in New Jersey. He passed up a college commitment to Vanderbilt to sign with the Yankees.

“It was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get into the organization,” Volpe said. “This day, this feeling, this moment was kind of what I’ve worked my whole life for when I made that big decision.”

“Right now it’s crazy,” he added. “I don’t even know what lies ahead but Thursday I just want to go out and play, and have fun.”