I had this really cute idea that I was going to type my recap, and then post little excited blurbs when the Lightning scored during the Rays game. Then the Lightning didn't do a whole lot of that, and when they did it was late, so my idea was dashed. Instead, I'll just give a brief recap of a game that really only had interesting things happen in the early innings.
Freaking Erasmo, man. He was the picture of efficiency in the first... mowing down three batters with just four pitches. FOUR. This kid, I'm telling you. We've often said we just need five to six innings and a chance to let our modest bats win from our starters, and dangit if Erasmo doesn't repeatedly give us just that. Tonight he went five full, giving up five hits and two runs (all in the top of the third) with three strikeouts and no free passes. You know my favorite thing about Erasmo though? That smile. He could be wincing, cringing or squinting, but it always looks like a smile... the best we've had since Carlos Peña if you're asking me.
The Rays offense got started early in the first inning with a Joey Butler double down the left field line, followed by an Evan Longoria four-pitch walk with one away. David DeJesus stepped into the batters box next, and craziness ensued. David hit a soft liner to Aybar that he nabbed an flipped to Giavotella at second for the double play. Johnny G grabbed at it, bobbled it, fumbled it and finally clutched it, and Butler was ruled out for an inning ending double play. Not so fast, though, said Kevin "King of the Challenge" Cash. He had the umpires review the play, and it was reversed. Safe! He either never had control of it, or took his foot off the bad when he did. Unfortunately, however, Logan Forsythe ended the inning on a fly out to end the threat.
The Rays would threaten again in the second, however, as Cabrera and Souza would single and walk respectively, to put two on with one out. After a Rivera pop out, Kevin Kiermarier would send Cabrera to the plate with a single. He'd end up reaching second on a strange play, as he'd stop on his way to second, confuse Pujols enough to cause him to make a bad throw, and successfully turn a single into a two-bagger thanks to the Machine's error. Joey Butler scored the second Rays run with a fielder's choice that plated Nick Franklin before ending the inning. 2-0 Rays.
There was a bit of an Erasplosion in the third, as Ramirez gave up singles to Cron, Kubitza, Aybar and some jobber named Trout that scored two runs to tie it at two, before hitting Pujols with a pitch and finally getting Calhoun to ground out to end the inning. 2-2.
Evan Longoria was the difference maker in the third, when he launched a Jered Weaver offering into the left field bleachers to put the Rays up 3-2. It was a lead they would not relinquish.
The Rays bullpen was the rest of the story as Geltz, Jepsen, Boxy and McGee combined for four innings of shutout baseball, giving up just two hits and one walk the rest of the way.
The win and a Yankees extra inning loss to the Nationals puts the Rays just 1.5 games back at 32-28. Still a top five record in the American League. It's Richards vs Colome tomorrow in St Pete. We'll need that same fight we saw out of our boys tonight.