Colome throws five scoreless innings in 2015 debut

Righty strikes out six Orioles in first game since September

Colome throws five scoreless innings in 2015 debut

ST. PETERSBURG -- The starting rotation that the Rays envisioned when they drafted the blueprint for the 2015 season is beginning to take shape.

On the heels of two successful starts by recently activated left-hander Drew Smyly, Alex Colome provided the organization with an additional shot in the arm on Friday night against the Orioles.

In his first Major League start since September of last year, Colome threw five shutout innings against a powerful Orioles lineup, allowing three hits -- all singles -- and striking out six without issuing a walk.

Colome departed with his team ahead 2-0, which would prove to be the final score in the Rays' victory over Baltimore at Tropicana Field.

"Alex Colome? I can't say enough about what he did," said Rays manager Kevin Cash of the 26-year-old right-hander. "First start back, he looked pretty dominant, for sure. Gave us five really good innings, then we handed it over to the bullpen, and they did what they've been doing throughout the course of the year."

Colome, who was diagnosed with pneumonia midway through Spring Training after visa problems had delayed his arrival at Rays camp, mixed a mid-90s fastball with an elusive slider, a sharp-breaking curveball and an occasional changeup.

"He had everything going," said Cash.

"This was a really nice day for me," said Colome. "[I had] control of my fastball, of all my pitches. Every day [while rehabbing] I worked on my slider and my curveball, to have good location. 

"I worked hard to be good today."

In a particularly impressive stretch of pitching, Colome retired the heart of the Baltimore order -- Adam Jones, Chris Davis and Steve Pearce -- on consecutive strikeouts in a 1-2-3 fourth inning.

Colome was lifted after throwing 60 pitches, 42 of which were strikes.

"I didn't feel tired. I felt like I could throw one or two more innings, but in my first outing, they wanted to take care of me," he said.

"We factored in that with him just coming back, he gave us five very strong innings, and then we were fresh from the off-day with the bullpen," said Cash. "If we've got an opportunity to win a ballgame, we've got a lot of confidence in our bullpen, and that's what we'll lean towards doing."

Dating back to last year, Colome has now allowed no earned runs in three consecutive starts.

Prior to Friday's game, Cash told reporters that he was looking forward to seeing Colome perform.

"Personally, I'm really looking forward to seeing him pitch," said Cash. "I've never seen him pitch."

Moments after his team's victory, Cash was asked to revisit his pre-game comments on Colome. The Rays' manager didn't hesitate.

"Awesome," beamed Cash. "I can't wait to see him again next time."

Michael Kolligian is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.