White Sox rough up Ryan Yarbrough, edge Rays to take weekend series

White Sox rough up Ryan Yarbrough, edge Rays to take weekend series
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ST. PETERSBURG — Just when Ryan Yarbrough appeared to be squelching the cynicism over his aptitude as a regular Rays starter, the left-hander re-booted the outcries Sunday with one dreadful double bill.

Emphasis on double.

The White Sox (25-27) smacked five of them — two of the ground-rule variety via bounces over the centerfield wall — during Yarbrough’s 68-pitch debacle.

But the wretchedness was nearly followed by a rally. Mike Zunino’s two-out, two-run home run capped a four-run Rays sixth inning before the White Sox bullpen closed things out in a 6-5 Tampa Bay defeat before a Tropicana Field audience of 11,162.

“We basically lost that game because of me,” Yarbrough said.

Five days after his longest appearance of the season (6⅔ innings) in a loss at Texas, Yarbrough frequently fell behind on hitters while struggling to command his change-up (especially off the plate to right-handers) and cutter.

He needed 36 pitches to get through the first inning alone. Sox shortstop Danny Mendick led off with a single before Andrew Vaughn finished an 11-pitch at-bat — featuring five consecutive foul balls — with a blast to centerfield that bounced over the wall.

Yarbrough then forced Luis Robert to pop out to first before walking cleanup hitter Jose Abreu. Jake Burger, who hit a game-winning pinch-hit home run in the White Sox’ 3-2 victory Saturday, then matched Vaughn’s shot with another ground-rule double that bounced beyond Kevin Kiermaier’s reach and over the short wall in center, scoring two runs.

“Yarbs just didn’t have the command that he needs to have to go out there and pitch like he’s capable of,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “I felt like he was falling behind and then having to throw strikes that were having to catch a lot of the plate. And the White Sox, to their credit, they were ready for it.”

Yasmani Grandal followed with a two-run single to rightfield, giving Chicago a 4-0 lead. No. 9 batter Josh Harrison led off the second with a double, and advanced to third on rightfielder Manuel Margot’s throwing error, before Vaughn again doubled two batters later to score Harrison. Luis Robert’s single scored Vaughn.

Yarbrough would allow another double to Burger before exiting. He allowed eight total hits, walking two and striking out none. Forty-three of his 68 pitches were strikes.

“Obviously it was a pretty terrible day,” Yarbrough said. “Nothing really went well. I think that was the biggest thing, especially when they’re a really aggressive lineup and they can do some damage, and the fact that I’m not locating like I want to, it ends up for some bad results.”

The Rays’ rally commenced on Isaac Paredes’ leadoff home run in the fifth, and Randy Arozarena’s two-run triple the following inning. Two batters later, Zunino sent Sox right-handed starter Lucas Giolito’s 100th pitch — an 85-mph slider — over the leftfield wall to cut Tampa Bay’s deficit to 6-5.

But the Rays (31-23) managed one hit over the final three innings, a two-out Yandy Diaz single in the sixth that ended with him getting picked off in a rundown while trying to steal second. Sox right-handed reliever Kendall Graveman struck out the side in the eighth before closer Liam Hendriks retired the Rays in order in the ninth.

Standing throw-to-throw with the Sox’ bullpen was Tampa Bay’s foursome of relievers, which combined to work 7⅓ scoreless innings. The contingent included Andrew Kittredge, who was activated earlier in the day from the injured list and pitched a perfect ninth in his first appearance since May 16.

But mildly overshadowing him was right-hander Ralph Garza Jr., who pitched a career-high 3⅔ innings and escaped two jams, striking out one and walking none. Garza became the first pitcher in franchise history to allow seven or more hits in a scoreless relief appearance.

“Garza gave us every opportunity to get back into that ball game,” Cash said. “And if we were to tie it or take the lead, it would’ve been a lot because of his work that he provided, so I’m appreciative of that.”

Contact Joey Knight at jknight@tampabay.com. Follow @TBTimes_Bulls

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