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Rays 7, Astros 5: Fireworks From Escobar

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Yunel Escobar went 3-5 with two RBI doubles and made some pretty stellar defensive plays in today's 7-5 victory over the Astros

Bob Levey

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p><a href=";src=hash">#Rays</a> and <a href=";src=hash">#Astros</a> stand alongside active servicemen and women for the national anthem in Houston. <a href=";src=hash">#Happy4th</a> <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) <a href="">July 4, 2013</a></blockquote>

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The Rays took three of four in Houston as they defeated the Astros 7-5 today in extra innings.

Desmond Jennings hit the second pitch of the game high off the wall in left field for a stand up double. This makes it three straight games with a lead-off hit for Desmond! Matt Joyce followed up with a single to right field, advancing Jennings to third. Evan Longoria hit a little tapper to third, scoring Jennings and advancing Joyce to second.

Wil Myers made a nice sliding grab in the bottom of the first, but for a moment it looked like there might have been a collision between him and Zobrist to get the ball. Chris Archer struck out the next batter and then for out number three, Myers made a diving grab to rob Jason Castro of a hit. Hello highlight reel!

Archer picked up two more strikeouts in the second inning, one called on Chris Carter who homered twice in yesterday’s game. The other was a foul-tip strikeout off the bat of Carlos Pena. By not allowing a walk in the first two innings of today’s games, the Rays pitchers have now broken their record of innings pitched without allowing a walk which was 23 during September of 2010, per Dave Haller of the Rays Communications department.

Unfortunately, that streak ended in the bottom of the third when Archer walked Jake Elmore with two outs. It’s amazing how much Chris Archer has really worked to control his emotions while he’s pitching. During the sequence to Elmore you could see Archer just taking deep breaths and really calming himself down, trying not to get too worked up over falling behind in the count.

James Loney hit a one-out single in the top of the fourth, bringing his hitting streak up to fifteen games now. Per the Rays twitter, this tied his career high.

Brett Wallace got the Astros first hit of the game in the bottom of the fourth, an opposite field homerun to tie the score up at one a piece.

In the top of the fifth, Yunel Escobar and Desmond Jennings hit back to back singles with one out, but both runners were stranded as Matt Joyce struck out and Ben Zobrist hit a ball right back to Jordan Lyles which he threw to first for out number three.

The Astros took a 2-1 lead in the fifth off of a Jake Elmore sac-fly to deep right field. Brandon Barnes had hit a one-out single to right field. Jimmy Paredes walked on what looked like strike two and Lobaton would have thrown Barnes out at second as he was trying to steal. Then, Barnes and Parades pulled off a double steal which put them both into scoring position for Elmore.

The Rays got lucky in the seventh inning as Escobar hit into a fielder’s choice and advanced to third on a Desmond Jennings double. On a 2-1 count to Matt Joyce, Jordan Lyles threw a wild pitch that scored Escobar and moved Jennings to third. Lyles wound up walking Joyce and was pulled from the game. His final line is 6.2 innings pitched, walking three and striking out three, while allowing two earned runs on six hits. Travis Blackley entered the game for his 31st appearance of the season. He retired Ben Zobrist on a ground out back to the right side of the mound and the Rays threat was eliminated.

Alex Torres entered the game for the Rays in the bottom of the seventh, so Archer’s final line will be six innings pitched allowing two earned runs on two hits while walking three and striking out five. He threw 97 total pitches, 62 for strikes, and induced four groundouts and four flyouts.

Evan Longoria led off the eighth with a walk and Sam Fuld immediately came in to pinch run. During Loney’s at bat, Fuld took off to second and would’ve easily had a stolen base, but Loney swung at the ball and popped up to shallow left field which left Sam scrambling back to first. Wil Myers came up next and doubled a liner down to left field, moving Fuld to third. After falling behind 3-0 in the count, Astros pitcher Jose Cisnero intentionally walked Kelly Johnson to load the bases for Jose Lobaton. Loby hit into a fielders choice, scoring Sam Fuld. It almost looked as if Cedeno thought there were two outs as he didn’t even attempt to throw Lobaton out at first. Escobar followed with a two-run double to the hill in deep-center field, bringing the score to 5-2 in favor of the Rays. Astros centerfielder Brandon Barnes provided many laughs as he tripped running up the hill to retrieve the ball.

Joel Peralta took over the mound for the Rays in the bottom of the eighth and gave up a lead-off walk to Jake Elmore. Jose Altuve hit a bloop single into shallow centerfield, advancing Elmore to second. Brett Wallace followed with his best Chris Carter impression, a three-run homerun to right field, which was his second homerun of the game. Peralta walked Carter and was then lifted from the game as Kyle Farnsworth came in to face J.D. Martinez. Martinez grounded out into a beautiful double play started by Escobar, who has really impressed me lately with his defense.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p><a href=";src=hash">#Rays</a> Maddon pushing Escobar for ASG pregame today: &quot;I’d like to see the shortstop who’s played better than he has this year&quot;</p>&mdash; RMooneyTBO (@RMooneyTBO) <a href="">July 4, 2013</a></blockquote>

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The Astros brought in their closer, Jose Veras, for the top of the ninth and the Rays went down 1-2-3 on a groundout, popout and swinging strikeout. In the bottom of the ninth, Farnsworth allowed only one baserunner, Brandon Barnes, on a one-out walk. Barnes stole second but was left stranded.


James Loney led off the tenth for the Rays and hit a comebacker right at Veras. Veras would leave the game after being hit on his pitching hand. Josh Fields entered the game for the Astros to face Wil Myers. Myers was called out on strikes on a pitch down in the zone. Kelly Johnson was up next and popped out to right field.

Jamey Wright took the mound for the Rays in the bottom of the tenth. Jose Altuve grounded out for the first out and then Brett Wallace singled to center. Wright hit Jason Castro on the foot, giving the Astros men on first and second with one out. Chris Carter struck out swinging and Martinez struck out looking to end the Astros threat in the tenth.

Lobaton walked to start the eleventh and moved in to second on a passed ball by Castro. Escobar doubled to the right field corner, scoring Lobaton and giving the Rays a 6-5 lead. Jennings advanced Escobar to third on a fly ball to deep right field. Escobar would score on a wild pitch in which Jason Castro went flailing in the dirt, providing more laughs and making it 7-5 Rays.

Fernando Rodney came in to close the game for the Rays and allowed a lead-off walk to Ronny Cedeno. Barnes would strike out for the first out of the inning and Paredes followed with a force out to second. The game ended on a liner to third base by Jake Elmore. Rodney shot the moon as the Rays sealed this victory 7-5 and took the series 3-1.

The Rays will head back to the Trop for a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox. The pitching matchups are as follows: Friday-Axelrod vs. Hellickson, Saturday-Sale vs. Moore and Sunday-Danks vs. Price.