Rays’ wacky bullpen strategy results in bizarre save

There are saves and then there are saves.

Rays reliever Austin Pruitt was credited with the latter Sunday, becoming the first pitcher in more than 15 years to record a five-inning save during the regular season, according to ESPN.

Here’s how it happened Sunday in the Rays game against the Orioles:

The Rays recent strategy of starting a reliever backfired as Sergio Romo lasted just a third of an inning in his fourth start in eight days. Vidal Nuno took over and threw three scoreless innings. Enter Pruitt, who pitched the final 5 2/3 innings, holding the Orioles scoreless in an 8-3 win.

I had one [save] last year that was three innings, Pruitt told reporters afterward, but 5 2/3 innings, that’s lengthy.

In September 2002, Joaquin Benoit got a seven-inning save for the Rangers, also against the Orioles, the last time a reliever went as long in a regular-season game. In fact, per ESPN, there have been only four times in the past 30 regular seasons that a pitcher recorded a save while pitching at least five innings.

The ground-ball specialist has continued to keep the ball on the ground, yet opponents are batting .305 against him with men on base. That number may not regress all the way to the .243 mark from last season, but I doubt it stays where it is. We’ve seen some flashes of upside (five starts this season without allowing more than one earned run) and I think there is more upside to be had in the future than those with Keuchel rostered have experienced so far.

On many of the islands, as it is in your island of Curacao, children grow up speaking several languages. Was it like that for you?
In the islands, people speak four or five languages. That’s something we start in school. You start with Dutch first, and then, I think, when you go into third grade, you start with English and then Spanish and Papiamento (the official language of Curacao) and everything. Then, when you are around 15 years old, you start talking in French and everything.

You know, I always thought he was Dominican! I mean, just listen to him talking, and it’s like, man. He’s a little younger than I am. I didn’t get to know him. Guys like Andrelton Simmons I kind of know because they were there when I was there. When I [got to] know him, I was kind of like, Wow, he’s from Aruba, that’s awesome.

In the minors, there are not many players from the islands, but there are many Latinos. Did people assume that you were Latin?
Sure, a lot of people thought I was Latino because all the time I was hanging out with Latinos. They would talk to me and I would learn how to speak [like them]. I can speak with guys from the Dominican Republic or from Venezuela or from Mexico. I wanted to talk almost the same as them and always learn more languages.

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