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Monday, Jan 21, 2019
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Rays journal: Reliever Austin Pruitt pitches nearly six scoreless innings for second career save

ST. PETERSBURG — Rays RHP Austin Pruitt has started and worked out of the bullpen, in both short and long relief.

But he did not expect to pick up his second career save Sunday by having to log 5⅔ innings, allowing only three hits while striking out five.

"A 5⅔ (innings) save, that's lengthy,'' Pruitt said after locking down the 8-3 win over the Orioles. "I was in this role last year a little bit. I wasn't going as long as I am now.''

The plan was for Pruitt to follow "opener" Sergio Romo to the mound. But Romo, who was making his second start in 48 hours, retired only the first batter he faced. He was gone after a walk and two singles loaded the bases.

Manager Kevin Cash went to LHP Vidal Nuno to retire Chris Davis on a sacrifice fly. After an intentional walk to Danny Valencia, Nuno then forced home a run with a walk to Chance Sisco before a run-scoring bunt single by Craig Gentry. All three runs were charged to Romo.

"The walks didn't help,'' Cash said. "Romo's walk, my intentional walk and then the walk after that didn't help. Starters, relievers, you walk guys, you're going to give up runs. And that's what kind of put us in a hole. Sergio, if you look at what he did besides the walks, it was just singles to some really good hitters.''

Pruitt entered with one out in the fourth and faced the minimum of hitters until he was touched for a two-out double in the seventh by Jonathan Schoop.

"Really impressed with him,'' Cash said of Pruitt. "That's two outings in a row. Against the Red Sox, he gives up the home run to (Rafael) Devers. Other than that, he was pretty flawless, and today he was outstanding. Forcing contact, controlling the count. He got a lot of ground balls, allowed our defense to start working behind him.''

Gomez flashes leather, then homers

It has been a tough few months for RF Carlos Gomez, who's batting .199. But he has found ways to contribute. On Sunday, he made a diving catch in foul territory, then hit his sixth home run of the season in the seventh.

"Carlos, we talk about the energy all the time,'' Cash said. "He hit the home run, but he had some pretty good at-bats today, too. There were a couple hard foul balls where he was on time … so I think that's a sign of the right direction. Generally you see singles or line drives come before the home run, but if that's going to get him hot, we'll take it.''

Eovaldi to start Wednesday

Nathan Eovaldi, who has been on the disabled list since March 28 with loose bodies in his right elbow, is scheduled to make his first start of the season Wednesday at Oakland.

The Rays had toyed with the idea of starting Eovaldi on Tuesday, splitting up Chris Archer and Blake Snell in the rotation. But the plan changed Sunday.

"I think just given how we stacked up, we talked about maybe inserting Nate, but then you can also make the argument on the flip side, it's been working pretty good for (Chris Archer and Matt Snell), they kind of complement each other in that they're different and they attack differently,'' Cash said. "Obviously, one is right, one is left. So to keep them back to back after a little more time thinking, that's what we decided to do.''

Banda gone, Schultz back

Anthony Banda pitched a career-high 6⅓ innings and allowed only one run while striking out seven Saturday in a win over the Orioles, but all that earned him was a return trip to Triple-A Durham.

The Rays recalled RHP Jaime Schultz from the Bulls, and he was in the bullpen Sunday.

Schultz was on the verge of making the big-league roster in 2017 as one of the final cuts, then suffered a groin injury in his first game at Durham that forced him to miss three months.  Then he tore the meniscus in his right knee. Although played through both injuries, he needed surgery on both in the offseason.

Schultz was 1-1 with a 9.98 ERA in Durham this year.

"Pretty surprised,'' Schultz said of the callup. "The culmination of the past two years with injuries. It's been on my brain, and I've been kind of waiting and waiting. Then as soon as it goes out of my mind and I stop focusing on it, it just comes out of the blue. So it's surprising for me."

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