A nice, calm, easy game before the All-Star break would have been perfect for this team. But if you have watched the Rays this season you know that's not their style. They like to make it interesting, and that's exactly what they did this afternoon.
The Rays defeated the Indians 6-5 in 10 innings on a walk off hit from Jason Bartlett, who is probably the unlikeliest batter to do that, all things considered. Since the game ran long, and I have a prior commitment tonight, we're going with bullet points from here on out.
- Jeff Niemann had a rough first inning, getting hit pretty hard in allowing three runs. However, he settled down nicely after that, allowing just three base runners the rest of his afternoon. His afternoon was sadly curt short by an apparent injury. Niemann said it is just back stiffness and he should be fine. So that's good. At the time Maddon took him out it seemed very strange considering he had thrown just 70 pitches. It was unfortunate to lose him so early, but hopefully the break will give his back some rest.
- Wheeler replaced Niemann and didn't pitch great, but was the victim of some bad luck. Trevor Crowe hit a bloop single, that was barely higher than his shoe strings, into centerfield that plated a run. The next batter, Chris Gimenez, reached safely when Sean Rodriguez failed to cover first on a ground ball to the pitcher, which allowed a runner to advance to third who eventually scored.
- Crawford hits another two run homer and beat out a rundown to home. You can't stop him right now. Bob Gibson in 1968 couldn't stop him.
- Zobrist has 51 walks thus far. Even though his power has come back to Earth, he continues to be a very valuable offensive player.
- The bases loaded situation in the bottom of the 9th was absolutely brutal: Upton fly out, Brignac K, S-Rod ground to third. It appears that Bartlett would have scored on Upton's fly ball to center field, but it wasn't hit very deep so I don't mind the call to hold him.
- I'm not sure why Maddon sent Andy Sonnanstine out to pitch the 10th inning. Rafael Soriano had pitched a perfect 9th and could have easily gone another inning. Sonnanstine pitched a perfect inning as well, but it was still a questionable move.
- As much as we rag on Bartlett, I'm happy for MVB on his walk off hit. It's been a tough season for him.