Hey, guess what? Tonight, the Rays walked it off for just the third time all year. For most of the game, it didn't look like that was possible. But then, that's normally the way walk-offs work. Here's how it started.
Marco Estrada entered the night having pitched 21 innings against the Rays, while giving up just seven hits and zero (0) (ZEE-ROW) runs. And it looked like more of the same against John Ja --
Oh. Well then. 1-0, Rays.
For his part, after a smooth first, Archer worked in and out of trouble most of his time on the hill against the tough Blue Jay lineup. He benefited from a smooth play from Tim Beckham and Evan Longoria in the second, and a strong throw from Rene Rivera to nail Kevin Pillar and a nice jump throw for Cabby to nab Goins in the fourth
In between those scoreless innings was the third, where the Jays tied the game at one. The inning started with a cue-shot single by Pennington, followed by a hard single the other way by Ben Revere, bringing the Blue Jays murderers' row with two on and no one out. Archer responded nicely, relatively speaking, striking out Donaldson, giving up a ground ball RBI single to Jose Bautista, and retiring Edwin Encarnacion on a fly to center. He then retired Smoak on a ground out to second to end the inning.
Archer continued his good fortune in the fifth, sandwiching a Revere routine grounder to short around a nice pickup from James Loney on a Pennington grounder up the line and Donaldson long fly that Souza caught with his back to the wall. But that would be where Chris' luck -- and his night -- ended. Brandon Gomes came out for the sixth after just 72 pitches from Archer. His line for the night: 5 innings, 1 run, 3 Ks, 1 walk. The official word was fatigue, but you get the feeling the hook also had something to do with the mound, as the grounds crew did some extended work on it before the 5th at Archer's request.
Gomes started the sixth by hitting Joey Bats with a breaking pitch that backed up. Not the worst outcome. But then he fell behind E-5, and responded by spinning a breaking ball over the middle of the plate. Pretty much the worst outcome from that situation happened, as Encarnacion hit a tracer to left. 3-1, Jays.
Gomes continued to struggle, giving up a single and a walk while getting just one out. With runners of first and second, Cash called on C.J. Riefenhauser. The lefty made quick work of Ryan Goins, striking him out with a sweeping breaking ball, and getting pinch hitter Chris Colabello to ground sharply into a 5-4 force play. Rief also retired Revere to start the seventh. Good job, rookie.
Next man up was Steve Geltz for the 420th time this year. Somehow, he managed to retire Donaldson and Bautista. Will miracles never cease.
You might notice I haven't said much about the offense since the Jaso dinger. Well, that's because there really wasn't much to write about. Estrada went back to owning us like Ponch and Jon owned the freeways of Los Angeles in 1979. There was a Longoria single. There was Tim Beckham with a Brandon Guyer Special. And that was it.
But then came the bottom of the seventh! And I'm not kidding when I tell you that I actually typed that last sentence right before this happened.
Yes, I typed it as the setup to a joke. But runs work too! 3-2. We're back in this! Unfortunately for the Rays, Estrada got back on the horse quickly, and then 69 year-old LaTroy Hawkins came on to finish the Rays off before any more damage was done.
Let's see, what else worth talking about happened...oh! There was a Jake McGee sighting in the 8th. Sadly, the heater was not so hot, sitting at 91-92 and topping out at 94. He did drop a few curves in though, and didn't give up any runs. But as the inning wore on, the Jays seemed to lock in on the pedestrian fastball. With two outs, Navarro hit a foul ball homer before walking, and Pillar nearly decapitated Jake with a liner back through the box. All in all, it was nice to get Jake back out there, but it will be nicer when he's back at full strength next year.
There was also a Richie Shaffer sighting in the eighth when he pinch hit for Rivera against Brett Cecil with one out. He struck out, because sometimes the game doesn't play along with the narrative I'm trying to write. But that's okay; the Rays had a better narrative anyway.
Alex Colome took over in the ninth and kept the deficit at one. He also looked sharp doing it, especially with the pitch he threw to strike out Revere, which came in at 90 mph but had splitter action to it. Revere was shaking his head all the way back to the dugout with a "what the hail was that" look on his face.
Grady Sizemore led off the bottom of the ninth against 13 year-old Roberto Osuna and promptly doubled in the gap to put the tying run at second. After a Longo pop out, Osuna fell behind Cabrera 3-0 before working the count full. He would strike out Cabby looking with a fastball on the 7th pitch of the at-bat. It was nice piece of pitching by the Toronto battery.
But then things went off the rails for the rookie pitcher. With Steven Souza Jr. at the plate, Osuna got ahead before getting too cute for his own good and walking Souza in an eight pitch at-bat. He followed that by walking Loney on five pitches to load the bases. This brought Tim Beckham to the plate and bedlam to the on-deck circle.
Rays win! Walk-offs are fun. We should do this more often. Maybe next year?
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