The Tampa Bay Rays defeated the Atlanta Braves 5-1 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg on Thursday.
The Braves started off the game aggressively by making contact and getting on base. Tampa Bay had a fielding error by shortstop Daniel Robertson, but starting left-handed pitcher Jeffrey Springs was able to force a ground out that resulted in a double play.
Right fielder Manuel Margot gave the Rays an early lead when he hit a 3-run homer in the bottom of the first inning. Third baseman Yanny Diaz walked and second baseman Brandon Lowe was hit by a pitch, which put them both on base for Margot’s first at-bat.
Both teams settled in after the first inning. Springs found his grove and forced three straight outs in the third inning. Atlanta starting pitcher Charlie Morton had three straight outs in the second and third inning.
Margot came back up to bat in the fourth inning and hit a double on a sharp line drive to center field. Third Baseman Charlie Culberson then hit a line drive single to right field that Margot scored on. The Rays now led the Braves 4-0 at the end of the fourth inning.
Pitcher Ryan Thompson came in for the Rays in the fifth inning. Wild pitches and a walk allowed the Braves to have base runners in scoring position, but they were left on base after a lineout by catcher Travis d’Arnaud.
Another fielding error by the Rays, this time by third baseman Junior Caminero, resulted in right fielder Jordan Luplow reaching first base. Pitcher Pete Fairbanks struck out the next two batters to hold on to Tampa Bay’s shutout.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Tampa Bay extended its lead to five. Second baseman Vidal Brujan singled on a line drive to center field. Brujan stole second base and advanced to third on a throwing error by Braves catcher Hendrik Clementina. Brujan then scored on a sacrifice fly by catcher Gavin Collins.
Just when it looked like Tampa Bay would get the shutout, Atlanta found momentum. Third baseman Ignacio Alvarez hit a leadoff double for the Braves. A balk was then called on Rays’ pitcher Garrett Cleavinger, which advanced Alvarez to third. Alvarez then scored on a single by second baseman Cade Bunnell.
The Braves avoided the shutout but lost to the Rays 5-1.
Tampa Bay pitcher Jeffrey Springs had another dominant performance during spring training against Atlanta. Springs pitched four and a third innings with seven strikeouts, three hits, and one walk. He threw a total of 68 pitches, with 49 strikes.
Springs signed a four-year, $31 million contract extension with the Rays before spring training began. The lefty has now played three games this spring and has a 2-0 record with a 0.00 ERA.
Rays’ right fielder Manual Margot dominated the game. He went 2-2 with a home run and a double. He had three RBIs and two runs. The 390-foot homer was Margot’s first home run of this year’s spring training.