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Rays’ Garrett Cleavinger expected to miss rest of season due to knee injury

BALTIMORE — Rays reliever Garrett Cleavinger is expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in Sunday’s win against the Yankees.

Cleavinger will need surgery to repair the torn ligament, and may have other damage. Adding to the issue, Cleavinger previously tore the same ligament — and had surgery — with Philadelphia in 2018.

“Pretty unfortunate,” Rays manager Kevin Cash said. “We saw what happened (Sunday). It looks to be an ACL injury, so he’s going to miss quite a bit of time.

“I talked to him this morning. (His) spirits were probably about as good as can be, but certainly frustrating for him, frustrating for us because he’s a big part of our team. He’s also unfortunately experienced this before; this would be a second one.”

Cleavinger pitched in 15 games this season, compiling a 1-0 record with a 3.00 ERA, though he gave up a walk-off homer April 30 in Chicago and a three-run game-tying homer Friday. He was placed on the 15-day injured list with what the team called a right knee sprain.

Cleavinger was one of three left-handers in the Rays bullpen, along with Jalen Beeks and Colin Poche. With no experienced lefty options at Triple-A, the Rays could seek outside help, either via a low-cost trade (such as how they recently got Chase Anderson from Cincinnati’s Triple-A team) or a signing. Among available lefties who could fit is Jake Diekman, a 12-year-veteran who last week was designated for assignment by the White Sox.

For now, right-hander Trevor Kelley was called up to take Cleavinger’s spot. Kelley, signed during the off-season as a minor-league free agent, made one appearance for the Rays in April, but has spent most of his season at Triple-A Durham, compiling a 3.95 ERA in 11 games.

Kelley welcomed the opportunity, and even got to share it with his wife and two young children, who were with him for Durham’s series in Norfolk, Va. The Kelleys planned to drive to their Wilmington, N.C., home to celebrate son Kyler’s second birthday, but instead drove to Baltimore.

“It was nice; there’s not many times where the car’s already packed and you get the call up to the big leagues,’' Kelley said. “Ironically it’s his second birthday party that we’ve had to cancel for me getting a call-up. They’d much rather be here than at home.’'

Homer, with emotion

Luke Raley felt some extra satisfaction in hitting his ninth-inning homer off Keegan Akin.

“I was mad,” Raley said. “I don’t know if anyone was able to tell that. But he quick-pitched me twice. I said something to the umpire, and then I felt like (Akin) was holding the ball until one second the next three pitches. So I was mad. I let the emotions get the best of me. But it’s baseball and emotions fly high. And I obviously wear ‘em on my sleeve.’'

Hitting the homer, his first in the majors off a lefty and his eighth overall for the season, was good salve.

“I felt good,” Raley said. “I was glad, I felt like, I don’t even know what to say. I felt like he was doing it on purpose. And I got the better of him.”

Miscellany

The Rays posted their majors-leading seventh shutout — which equals their number of losses. ... Josh Lowe hit his seventh homer, a 393-foot blast with an exit velocity of 113.3 mph, the hardest-hit ball of his career. ... The Orioles held a pre-game moment of silence in honor of Dave Wills, the longtime Rays radio broadcaster who died March 5. ... Randy Arozarena extended his on-base streak to 19 games, and his hitting streak to nine games.

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