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Bullpen shuts opponent down again to lead Rays’ win

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Anymore, this is not simply relief.

For the Tampa Bay Rays, this is reinvention.

The Rays, as has so often been the case, have become primarily a bullpen team so far this year. Once again Friday night, they turned to their bullpen one more time, pulling out a 1-0 victory over the Seattle Mariners. This time, the effort was needed after starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi left the game in the fifth inning with a strained oblique, the latest injury to the Rays’ depleted starting rotation.

So far, however, the bullpen has made up whatever problems the rotation has had. On this night, three relief pitchers shut out the Mariners for the final 4.2 innings. Andrew Bellati pitched three innings of shutout ball for the Rays, but after the game, he was immediately optioned out so the Rays could have a fresh reliever tomorrow. Such is the amount the Rays have depended upon the pen so far; their biggest fear should be overusing it.
But the impressive performance was in the ninth inning with Kevin Jepson. Jepson, throwing for the third straight day, gave up a leadoff triple to Austin Jackson in the bottom of the ninth with a 1-0 lead. Staring at a tie game, Jepson had a strikeout, a short fly ball to right and a fly to left to preserve the shutout.

The Rays got the only run they would need when Logan Forsythe hit his seventh home run of the year in the ninth off former Ray Fernando Rodney.

That was enough against a Mariners team that has mysteriously struggled to score lately. Seattle has now lost 13 games in a row despite a lineup that was supposed to be improved.

The Rays are 6-2 on their current road trip, but they continue to trail the New York Yankees by a half game in the AL East.

Today, Alex Colome pitches against Seattle’s Felix Hernandez.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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