May 28, 2024

Pepiot strikes out a career-high 11 in Rays’ 3-2 victory over Rockies

Colorado Rockies shortstop Ezequiel Tovar throws to first base to put out Tampa Bay Rays' Harold Ramírez in the first inning of a baseball game Sunday, April 7, 2024, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

By MICHAEL KELLY Associated Press
DENVER (AP) — Ryan Pepiot struck out a career-high 11 batters in six shutout innings, and the Tampa Bay Rays held on to beat the Colorado Rockies 3-2 on Sunday.
Pepiot (1-1), who came to the Rays in an offseason trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers that sent Tyler Glasnow and Manuel Margot to L.A., topped his previous high of nine strikeouts which came at Coors Field on Sept. 26 of last season when he threw six innings in relief.
He struggled in his Rays debut, allowing six runs to Texas in 5 2/3 innings on Monday. However, he was sharp against the Rockies.
Pepiot threw 38 of his first 51 pitches for strikes and kept Colorado hitters off balance Sunday. He allowed three hits and didn’t walk a batter to help the Rays take two of the three games in Denver.
“Strikeouts are great but the no walks is the big one,” Pepiot said. “That’s the biggest takeaway for me today. Rule No. 1 here is attack the zone early, get ahead and fill the zone up.”
He retired 10 straight from the second inning until Brenton Doyle’s two-out double in the fifth and retired six of eight batters with a strikeout.
He ended his day by striking out Charlie Blackmon and Ezequiel Tovar in a clean sixth inning.
The Rays gave him the lead with two runs in the second on Austin Shenton’s RBI double — his first major league hit — and Jose Siri’s RBI single and another in the third on an RBI single by Isaac Paredes. Tampa Bay had a potential big inning thwarted when the 37-year-old Blackmon made a sliding catch of Jose Caballero’s sinking liner to right field for the third out.
Dakota Hudson (0-2) allowed three runs and seven hits in six innings for Colorado.
“You make good pitches, they’re able to find some singles and if you make a mistake they put it on you,” Hudson said. “Tough lineup to navigate.”
Shenton, who made his major league debut against Toronto on March 31, finished with two hits and an RBI.
“As I was running it was the most pain-free run I had in my life,” Shenton said of his first career hit. “I’m not fast but I felt like I was floating.”
Colorado nearly spoiled Pepiot’s outing with a rally in the eighth against reliever Phil Maton. Jake Cave tripled, Elias Diaz singled and Maton walked the next two batters to load the bases with no outs. Shawn Armstrong got out of it with a fielder’s choice and inducing struggling Kris Bryant to hit into an inning-ending double play.
“I just try to come in, throw strikes and fortunately get a ground ball to get out of it,” Armstrong said. “I can’t say enough about our infield.”
Bryant, who missed Saturday’s game with lower back stiffness, was 0 for 3 with a walk to drop his average to .107.
Doyle had one-out RBI single in the ninth, but Armstrong got the next two batters for his first save.
UP NEXT
Rays: Zach Eflin (1-1, 5.25 ERA) starts the opener of a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels on Monday night.
Rockies: Kyle Freeland (0-2, 27.00) takes the ball to continue a six-game homestand against Arizona on Monday night.