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Lange and Co. shut down Blue Jays’ offense in 8-2 victory 

Justin Lange tossed six superb innings in Wednesday's contest against the Dunedin Blue Jays at GMS Field. (Maggie Christensen)
July 26, 2023

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (13-13) bounced back for an empathic 8-2 victory against the Dunedin Blue Jays (10-16) Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. RHP Justin Lange (1-3) hurled six brilliant innings while picking up his first victory of the season. At the plate, 1B Omar Martinez

TAMPA, Fla. - The Tampa Tarpons (13-13) bounced back for an empathic 8-2 victory against the Dunedin Blue Jays (10-16) Wednesday night at George M. Steinbrenner Field. RHP Justin Lange (1-3) hurled six brilliant innings while picking up his first victory of the season. At the plate, 1B Omar Martinez and LF Jake Palmer propelled the offense, combining for four RBIs and picking up five of Tampa’s nine hits.

Lange (6.0IP, 6H, R, 2BB, 10K) was dominant in his six innings of work, only allowing one run while racking up ten strikeouts. He used a four-pitch mix consisting of his sinker, cutter, fastball, and slider. Dunedin’s hitters had trouble with the cutter, as it generated a whiff percentage of 86%. Lange’s biggest moment came in the fourth inning when runners were on second and third with one away. Tampa only held a two-run lead at the time, and Lange was able to retire the next two batters to keep the lead intact.

The scoring started early for Tampa. In the first inning, 2B Jared Serna drew a leadoff walk, moved to second on a wild pitch, and advanced to third on a wild pickoff attempt. Martinez hit a ground-rule double over the side wall near the Tarpons’ bullpen to bring in the first run of the night. SS Brenny Escanio walked, and with two away, Palmer looped a single into shallow center to score Martinez and give Tampa an early two-run lead.

Roque Salinas dumped a single over Escanio’s head to open the second frame, and Edward Duran brought Dunedin within one when he doubled into the right-field corner. Salinas came around to score from first, but two strong throws in a relay to third base by RF Felix Negueis and Martinez nabbed Duran trying to stretch his hit into a triple.

The defensive highlight of the night came in the second inning on a strike-him-out, throw-him-out double play. Lange got Angel Del Rosario to swing and miss on a full count 95.6 MPH sinker on the outside corner, and C Jesus Rodriguez hosed Abizel Ramirez at second, which received a loud ovation from the crowd.

After the stellar play on defense, Martinez came up with one away in the bottom of the third and provided the power for the second night in a row. Martinez’s solo shot left the bat at 103.2 MPH. With CF Daury Arias on second after a fielder’s choice, back-to-back singles from Palmer and DH Ronny Rojas brought in Tampa’s fourth run of the night. It looked like Tampa was going to get a few more runs on a bloop into right field off the bat of Negueis, but Salinas came flying in to make a sliding catch and escape further trouble.

Dunedin added one more run in the seventh. Negueis lost a ball in the lights, which resulted in a double for Duran. A long flyout from Bryce Arnold moved Duran to third, and he came around to score on a single to center field from Ramirez.

With one out in the home half of the seventh, Tampa put runners on first and second for Palmer, who came through with his third hit of the night. It was an RBI knock to center field to extend Tampa’s lead to three. With runners still on the corners, Rojas lifted a SAC-fly to left field to grow the lead. Negueis walked, and two wild pitches led to another run for Tampa. Dunedin’s second balk of the game allowed Negueis to score and give the Tarpons a six-run lead.

After a 30-minute weather delay, RHP Cole Ayers set the Blue Jays down in order in the ninth to finish off the night.

The Tarpons will be back at it tomorrow night as they host the Blue Jays for the third game of the six-game series. RHP Baron Stuart will start on the mound with first pitch at 6:30 p.m.