ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — — Yonny Chrinos made a tearful return to the major leagues on Wednesday night.
The 28-year-old right-hander pitched three flawless innings in relief to earn his first start in more than two years, leading the Tampa Bay Rays to a 1-0 win over the Boston Red Sox.
Taylor Walls drove in the only run with an infield single in the fifth as the Rays won for the eighth time in nine games. They lead the AL wild-card race and are five games behind the AL East-leading Yankees after New York swept a doubleheader against Minnesota.
Chirinos (1-0) allowed four hits and one walk and struck out four. He underwent Tommy John surgery following his previous appearance with the Rays on August 16, 2020, then suffered a serious setback during his recovery when he broke a bone in his elbow.
“There were a lot of tears of sadness, especially after that second surgery. Now there are tears of happiness,” Chrinos said through a translator. “To be able to come in, compete and help the team win, that’s all I want.” do.”
The emotional high point came after his first inning, which Chirinos ended with back-to-back strikeouts by Christian Arroyo and Rob Refsnyder with two runners on. The reliever jumped off the mound to celebrate.
“It’s a genuine, authentic thrill for him, and he’s earned it. Two years is a long time,” said Rays manager Kevin Cash, who thought Chirinos exceeded expectations after a 751-day absence from the major leagues.
“He had to throw some big pitches because there were a couple of first-second situations,” Cash said. “He got into pretty high leverage. You’re talking about a 0-0, 1-0 ball game. So there wasn’t too much room for error.”
Pete Fairbanks pitched the ninth for his sixth save in six attempts.
Boston starter Nick Pivetta (9-11) completely counted out 10 of the first 13 batters he faced and threw 105 pitches in just five innings. But he didn’t allow a hit until Francisco Mejia led off the fifth with a double. After Mejia advanced on a long fly ball, Walls hit a gorilla in an offset infield and got past him, driving in the run.
“Our plan was to get (Pivetta) out of the game early,” Mejia said. “Obviously we couldn’t do that, but we got the only run that won the game.”
Walls, the Rays’ light-hitting shortstop, had two of Tampa Bay’s four hits. He also stole a base and made the best defensive play of the game, stealing a hit from JD Martinez in the sixth.
Rays starter Jeffrey Springs allowed one hit in three innings.
The Red Sox stranded 10 running backs and lost for the 12th time in 16 games against the Rays.
Red Sox: OF Franchy Cordero (severely sprained right ankle) was placed on the 60-day disabled list and OF Abraham Almonte was recalled from Triple-A Worcester. … SS Xander Bogaerts, who left Tuesday night’s game with back spasms, was left out of the lineup as a precaution. … RHP Nathan Eovaldi, sidelined since Aug. 12 with right shoulder inflammation, pitched a bullpen.
Rays: Brandon Lowe was reinstated to the active roster. He spent 10 days on the disabled list after taking a shot to the left elbow. … RHP Tyler Glasnow (Tommy John surgery) struck out two in one inning of a rehab start for Triple-A Durham, throwing 19 pitches.
ANOTHER DAY OFF
Bogaerts told manager Alex Cora early Wednesday that he wanted to play. But with the Red Sox nine games out of the wild-card position with 25 to play, the manager thought another day off made more sense.
“I appreciated that, but we have to be smart and protect the players,” Cora said. “He will have today and tomorrow off and will be back on Friday. We know where we are and we have to be smart. Just like with Trevor (Story), Friday is a day off anyway.”
GAMES THAT COUNT
Beginning with a weekend series at Yankee Stadium and a five-game series in Toronto, the Rays will play 21 of their remaining 27 games against teams in playoff contention.
“We’re up against everyone who’s going to go to the postseason or is competing for a wild card spot,” Lowe said. “We’re not playing any game that doesn’t matter. … Every game right now means something and that will help us prepare for the postseason.”
UNTIL NEXT TIME
Red Sox: RHP Brayan Bello (1-4, 5.91 ERA) will make his seventh start Friday night in Baltimore. Bello got his first win on Saturday, pitching six scoreless innings against Texas.
Rays: RHP Drew Rasmussen (9-4, 2.70 ERA), who missed his scheduled start Tuesday due to the birth of his son, will start Friday night’s opener of a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.