ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Tampa Bay’s Jeffrey Springs was pulled after six hitless innings, Riley Greene got Detroit's first hit with an infield single off Colin Poche in the seventh and the Rays beat the Detroit Tigers 5-1 on Sunday to complete an opening three-game sweep.
Springs (1-0) struck out a career-high 12 and matched his high of six innings, He threw 58 of 81 pitches for strikes.
“Sometimes we’ve got to protect them from themselves,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said of the pitching change. “Totally respect the magnitude of throwing six no hit-innings ... Kind of gut-wrenching. I apologized to him but I felt like sometimes we’ve just got to make some decisions that are best for the team.”
Springs did not argue to stay in.
“Obviously as a competitor you want to pitch but it's not my job to look ahead and manage and all that,” Springs said. “I'm going to go out there until he takes the ball. I trust him 100 percent.”
Outscored 21-3 in the series, Detroit had just one runner against Springs: Nick Maton drew a two-out walk in the second.
“It’s a bad weekend,” Tigers manager A.J. Hinch said. “We’ve got to do a lot better in a lot of areas.”
Greene hit a grounder leading off the seventh that first baseman Luke Raley fielded near the outfield grass, and Greene beat Raley’s toss to Poche at first. Poche's follow-through had him turnng his back toward the plate, impacting his dash to first base.
“Poche, generally, is not going to beat a guy like Riley Greene getting down the line,” Cash said. “It was unfortunate that it happened that way. It was a clear hit.”
Poche, Ryan Thompson and Jalen Beeks pitched an inning each to complete a two-hitter. Beeks gave up Jake Rogers' homer leading off the ninth.
Spring’s previous career-high of nine strikeouts was last June 23 against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Springs signed a $31 million, four-year contract during the offseason after moving from the bullpen to the rotation in 2022. He was 9-5 with a 2.46 ERA last season in 25 starts and eight relief appearances.
Randy Arozarena had a fourth-inning solo homer off Joey Wentz (0-1), and Jose Siri drove in two with a single against Jason Foley during a three-run, sixth.
Wentz allowed three runs and four hits over 5 1/3 innings in his eighth career start.
The three runs allowed by the Rays was the fewest through the first three games of a season in team history. ... Siri, who has five RBIs this season, had knocked in a run in three straight games for the first time.
Tigers DH Miguel Cabrera went 0 for 3, including two strikeouts, in his final game at Tropicana Field. Cabrera, who is retiring after the season, had two hits in 10 at-bats in the series.
Rays slugger Brandon Lowe entered as a pinch hitter in the sixth one day after fouling a ball off his right big toe Saturday.
Tigers: LHP Matthew Boyd and Houston RHP Hunter Brown will both make their season debuts on Monday night.
Rays: RHP Drew Rasmussen and Washington RHP Trevor Williams on Monday night will take the hill for the initial time in 2023. --- More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/hub/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports
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