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AL East

Rays can’t overcome flawless Fried

The Tampa Bay Rays lost Thursday night to the Atlanta Braves 2-1 in a duel between two budding star left-handers.

Fried foils Rays’ offense: Braves starter Max Fried had everything working. He was perfect through 4.2 innings before Mike Brosseau‘s single to centerfield in the fifth. Brosseau was picked off at first thereafter to end the inning. Fried would pitch into the seventh inning before allowing a two-out double to Willy Adames. He was replaced by Luke Jackson, who allowed the inherited runner to score on a Ji-Man-Choi single. Fried was charged with the lone run and finished with seven strikeouts, one walk, and three hits allowed. Braves beat writer Peyton Joyce mentioned in our Eastern Division Primer that Atlanta has no worries about their dynamic duo of Mike Soroka and Fried headlining their rotation. Atlanta has won three out of four games started by the pair of youngsters. Now they just need to fill the remainder of the starting rotation with quality starts.

Yarbrough gives Rays hope: Rays southpaw Ryan Yarbrough nearly matched Fried’s outing, but came away with a hard luck loss. Yarbrough also pitched into the seventh, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks while striking out six. He allowed both hits and runs, as well as one of his two hit-by-pitches, in the second inning. Dansby Swanson continued his hot hitting with an RBI single before an Austin Riley sacrifice fly made it 2-0.  Despite the loss, Yarbrough is becoming a legitimate force whose stuff greatly contrasts with Tampa Bay’s plethora of hard throwers. He gives the Rays a terrific chance to win every fifth day.

No offense: The Rays compiled just five hits while scoring one measly run on Thursday. They mustered only five runs total across the two games in Atlanta. The offensive surge from earlier this week disappeared as the Rays hit the road. Facing Atlanta’s aces didn’t make things easier, but the Rays had opportunities to both games. For now, their record is 4-3, though they could easily have won at least six of their first seven games. With Austin Meadows’ potential return looming, the Rays need to keep things afloat until they can return to full strength.

Up next: Tampa Bay heads to Baltimore to face the rebuilding Orioles. Blake Snell (0-0, 0.00 ERA) toes the rubber against former Ray Alex Cobb (1-0, 1.69 ERA) on Friday at 7:05 EST.

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