Rays morning after: Alvarado stepping up in a big way
You could say the Rays won Tuesday's 6-4 game because of the five home runs they hit, including a pair by Corey Dickerson.
And you could also say they didn't lose the game because of the work of rookie lefty Jose Alvarado.
The 21-year-old has come up from Double-A Montgomery and played a major role in stabilizing the beleagured Rays bullpen.
Alvarado showed his stuff again Tuesday, taking over in the seventh inning of a 6-4 game and working so impressively in getting three quick outs that Rays manager Kevin Cash and pitching coach Jim Hickey decided to let him start the eighth, and he took care of that, too.
"I think the story of the day is probably Jose Alvarado,'' Cash said. "A young pitcher coming in that we're asking a lot of right now, and he's throwing strikes, he's getting big outs, he picked us up in a big way today.
"Especially the way their lineup matches up with all the lefties. It seems they are left or switch everywhere.''
And the more Cash saw Tuesday, the more he wanted to see.
"We could have made a decision to go to somebody else there obviously, but he was so good in the seventh, and (pitching coach Jim Hickey) and I discussed let's get him through (Michael) Brantley and see where we're at,'' Cash said. "He just kept pumping strikes and getting outs. It didn't make too much sense to pull him out of that game the way he was attacking the zone.''
Alvarado has now made six straight scoreless appearances, covering 6 1/3 innings, since a rocky debut, impressing with his strike throwing, and how cool, calm and collected he has been on the mound.
"He doesn't act like a 21-year-old,'' Cash said. "There's no panic. He fell behind 2-0 to (Jason) Kipnis today and got right back in the zone. You don't see a lot of guys come from Double-A or be 21 years old and be able to hone in the strike zone like he's showing us he is capable of doing.''
Alvarado does it with power, his fastball averaging close to 98 mph, per StatCast, and throwing strikes.
"That's kind of the irony - we didn't know,'' Cash said. "We knew he had the power, we knew he had a good breaking ball, we didn't know what the strike throwing was going to be. And he's really done a tremendous job of throwing a lot of them.''