The first month of Austin Pruitt’s first season in the majors has been a rough ride. Things are looking up right now, though, for the Tampa Bay Rays’ rookie reliever.
Pruitt improved to 2-0 on the season after tossing 2 1/3 innings of hitless relief, and Tim Beckham’s third straight hit came during a four-run sixth inning that helped carry the Rays past the Houston Astros 6-3 on Saturday night for their fourth win in five games.
“When hitters are in a slump, they’ve got to swing their way out of it,” Pruitt said. “With pitchers, you’ve got to pitch your way out of it.”
Pruitt, a 27-year-old right-hander who allowed 24 of the first 41 major leaguers he faced to reach base, has now faced the minimum 17 over his last two appearances, both wins.
“It’s tough to go out there and have a few bad ones in a row, but they were all great learning experiences for me,” he said.
“It seemed like every ball that was hit was finding a hole (in Pruitt’s first six games) and that can scare you out of the zone a little bit,” manager Kevin Cash said. “I think now he’s back to what made him so good in the minor leagues and in spring training.”
Beckham, who tripled and singled in two at-bats against Houston starter Charlie Morton (1-2), drove in a run with his single in the sixth off reliever Will Harris.
Evan Longoria, Steven Souza Jr. and Corey Dickerson had two hits each for the Rays, who snapped the Astros’ three-game winning streak.
Alex Colome pitched the ninth for his fourth save.
Astros center fielder George Springer, playing in his major league-leading 205th straight game, left in the fifth with a tight left hamstring. Manager A.J. Hinch said it appeared unlikely Spring will play Sunday.
Houston took an early 2-0 lead when Evan Gattis and Jose Altuve hit their first home runs of the season off Rays starter Blake Snell.
After Longoria’s two-run double tied it in the fifth for the Rays, the Astros took a 3-2 lead in the sixth when Altuve scored from second base on a grounder to first baseman Logan Morrison. But the Rays took control in their half of the inning behind Pruitt.
“It wasn’t our best night,” Hinch said. “You’re going to have games like this sometimes. Defensively, we didn’t play great. We really didn’t piece together at-bat after at-bat when we did have some baserunners.”
Snell gave up three runs on three hits and five walks in five innings. In 21 1/3 innings over four starts, the left-hander has given up 15 hits and 15 walks while striking out 15.
Morton gave up five runs and eight hits in five innings. Harris gave up three hits to the four batters he faced in the big sixth inning and gave up his first run of the season.
Rays RHP Alex Cobb became the first pitcher in 14 years to pick off the same runner twice in a game with straight pickoffs on Friday. According to Elias, Cobb’s two pickoffs of Jose Altuve marked the first time it happened since Cleveland’s Terry Mulholland caught Desi Relaford of Kansas City twice on Sept. 11, 2003.
Rays: RHP Jake Odorizzi threw 37 pitches during his first bullpen session since going on the 10-day disabled April 16 with a strained left hamstring. … CF Kevin Kiermaier struck out three times before being lifted for a pinch hitter on his 27th birthday. He had left Friday’s game early due to illness. … RHP Tommy Hunter left with a tight right calf after facing three batters in the sixth. … With LHP Xavier Cedeno on the 10-day disabled list because of left forearm tightness, Cash said RHP Danny Farquhar will have a “very heavy left-handed role” in the bullpen.
Astros: RHP Joe Musgrove (1-1) will take the hill in Sunday’s series finale. He has allowed 20 hits and walked five over 15 1/3 innings in his three starts.
Rays: RHP Matt Andriese (1-0) is Sunday’s starter. He has given up 18 homers over 78 2/3 innings in 17 appearances since last year’s All-Star break.
Beckham, Rays Rally to Beat Astros 6-3. Colome pitched the ninth for his fourth save. Evan Longoria, Steven Souza Jr. and Corey Dickerson had two hits each.