Rays rout A’s 11-0, tie best MLB opening in 20 years at 9-0

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – The Tampa Bay Rays are putting together one of the best starts ever.

The Rays routed the Oakland Athletics 11-0 Sunday to improve to 9-0 as Drew Rasmussen combined on a one-hitter and Brandon Lowe hit a grand slam. Tampa Bay is the first team to win its first nine games since the 2003 Kansas City Royals.

“Essentially, everything is going exactly the way that we want to,” Lowe said. “This is incredible baseball that we’re playing.”

Tampa Bay has outscored opponents 75-18, scoring the most runs in the big leagues and allowing the fewest.

“It just opens things up,” Rasmussen said of the Rays’ offense. “The way they’re going right now, it’s unbelievable.”

The Rays have won every game by four or more runs, trailing only a 13-game run by the 1884 St. Louis Maroons of the Union Association as the longest at a season’s start. The streak is the longest at any point of a season since 10 by the 1939 New York Yankees.

The longest winning streak at a season’s start is 13 by the 1982 Atlanta Braves and 1987 Milwaukee Brewers.

Oakland has lost seven of nine. The Athletics were outscored 22-0 in the final two games of the series and limited to four hits, dropping their batting average to .192. The team ERA jumped from 7.00 to 7.54.

The Athletics run differential of minus-45 through nine games is the third worse since 1900, only behind the 1955 Kansas City Athletics (minus-55) and the 1988 Baltimore Orioles (minus-48).

“I think we’ve got to put this series behind us,” Oakland manager Mark Kotsay said. “We’ll talk about it, how we get better going forward.”

Wander Franco and Harold Ramírez also homered for the Rays, who have hit a big league-leading 24 long balls.

Rasmussen (2-0) allowed his only runner on Ramon Laureano’s two-out double in the second and has given up three hits over 13 scoreless innings in two starts. He struck out eight and walked none.

Ryan Thompson got three straight outs, and Jason Adam worked around a leadoff walk in the ninth.

James Kaprielian (0-1) allowed seven runs, seven hits and three walks over 4 2/3 innings. Oakland pitchers walked seven and hit two batters.

“It’s fundamentals that we’re failing at right now,” Kotsay said. “Again, today we walk seven, hit two, so the storyline here is we need to be better on the mound as well.”

Lowe’s drive was the only hit in the fourth to leave the infield as Tampa Bay took a 5-0 lead.

Isaac Paredes was hit by pitch starting the fourth, and Ramírez was credited with a single when third baseman Jace Peterson looked at second after fielding a ball and threw late to first.

Christian Bethancourt reached on a two-out fielder’s choice when Ramírez beat Aledmys Díaz’s throw to second base from deep in the shortstop hole. Lowe then connected for his his third career slam.

Ramirez said he was told by first base coach Chris Prieto the pitch before you’ve got to get second on a groundball.

“I don’t get that at-bat without Harold,” Lowe said. “I think owe him a steak later in this year.”

Paredes drew a two-out walk in the fifth and came on Ramírez’s homer.

Randy Arozarena had a RBI single in a two-run sixth that was set up when second baseman Tony Kemp caught a pop up by Franco but threw to an undercovered first base trying to double up Lowe.

Franco had a solo shot in the first.


Athletics: OF Seth Brown didn’t play after feeling side discomfort on a check-swing on Saturday.

Rays: INF Taylor Walls (left elbow) will undergo tests Monday. … RHP Tyler Glasbow (left oblique) could throw off a mound next week.


Athletics: LHP JP Sears (0-0) will face Baltimore RHP Kyle Gibson (2-0) on Monday night.

Rays: LHP Josh Fleming (0-0) will follow opener Jalen Beeks (0-0) against Boston RHP Nick Pivetta (0-1) Monday night.

McCutchen’s sacrifice fly lifts Pirates to 5-4 win, extends Athletics’ road losing streak to 15

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PITTSBURGH – Andrew McCutchen’s tiebreaking sacrifice fly in the eighth inning lifted Pittsburgh to a 5-4 victory over Oakland on Monday night, extending the Pirates’ win streak to six games and sending the Athletics to their record-tying 15th consecutive road loss.

The 15 straight defeats away from home matches the Athletics’ record since they moved from Kansas City in 1968. Oakland set that mark in 1986.

The major league-worst Athletics (12-50) have lost five games in a row overall. They are on pace to finish the season exactly 100 games under .500 at 31-131.

“It’s tough,” Athletics manager Mark Kotsay said. “Tonight’s game, we didn’t play well enough to win the game. I don’t want to say we gave the game away but there were a lot of instances where we had a chance to capitalize on opportunities and didn’t do it.”

McCutchen also singled and drew three walks to go with two RBIs. The 2013 NL MVP now has 1,998 career hits.

With the score tied at 4, Ji Hwan Bae led off the decisive eighth inning with a single off Sam Moll (0-3) and advanced to third on Austin Hedges’ one-out single. McCutchen’s sac fly plated Bae.

“I was just trying to get the job done. I understand the situation there,” McCutchen said. “We just need to get the run. I was trying to bear down against a hard thrower and trying to get that run in as much as I can, and I was able to do it and have a good at-bat.”

Angel Perdomo (1-0) retired both hitters he faced. and Colin Holdeman pitched a scoreless ninth inning for his first career save. It was an eventful inning for Holderman as the first three batters reached base, but he struck out Carlos Perez with runners on the corners to end it.

“I began my career as a starting pitcher in the minor leagues but ever since I was switched to relief, this has been the goal, to get a save in the big leagues,” Holderman said.

Pittsburgh starter Johan Oviedo gave up three runs and four hits with five strikeouts and two walks.

Oakland left-hander JP Sears did not allow a hit until Mark Mathias’ leadoff single in the fifth but was unable to make it through the inning. Sears was charged with one run in 4 2/3 innings while allowing two hits, walking five and striking out six.

Sears has not allowed more than two runs in five consecutive starts. His nine no-decisions are the most in the major leagues.

Ryan Noda and Brent Rooker had two hits each for the Athletics.

The Athletics tied the score at 4-4 in the eighth inning on pinch-hitter Aledmys Diaz’s run-scoring double. Oakland left the bases loaded, though, when Nick Allen hit an inning-ending flyout.

Consecutive bases-loaded walks keyed a three-run sixth inning that put the Pirates 4-3. McCutchen and Bryan Reynolds each worked bases on balls off Shintaro Fujinami to tie the score at 3-all and pinch-hitter Jack Suwinski followed with a sacrifice fly.

The Athletics opened the scoring in the first inning when rookie Esteury Ruiz reached on catcher’s interference, stole his MLB-leading 30th base of the season and scored on Noda’s single. Seth Brown doubled in a run in the third and came home on Perez’s sacrifice fly to push Oakland’s lead to 3-0.

Connor Joe hit an RBI double for the Pirates in the fifth.

The Pirates drew 10 walks, their most in a game in nearly two years.

“We had a bunch of opportunities that we didn’t capitalize (on), but the thing I think I was most proud of is we got down and we didn’t rush to get back,” Pittsburgh manager Derek Shelton said. “We were still patient.”


Athletics: LHP Kirby Snead (strained shoulder) is expected to pitch in the Arizona Complex League on Tuesday, which will be his first game action since spring training. … RHP Freddy Tarnok (strained shoulder) will throw a bullpen on Tuesday.


Pirates catching prospect Henry Davis was promoted to Triple-A Indianapolis from Double-A Altoona. In 41 games at Double-A this season, the 23-year-old hit .284 with 10 home runs and seven stolen bases.

“He was performing offensively at a level where we felt like he was more than ready to meet the challenges,” Pirates general manager Ben Cherington said. “He improved as an offensive player even since spring training, focusing on the things we were challenging him on. Defensively, he’s made strides too.”

Davis was the first overall selection in the 2021 amateur draft from the University of Louisville.


Athletics RHP James Kaprielian (0-6, 8.12 ERA) will make his first start in June after taking the loss in all four starts in May and face RHP Mitch Keller (7-1, 3.25). Keller has eight or more strikeouts in seven consecutive starts, the longest streak by a Pirates pitcher in the modern era (since 1901).