The Rays looked to bring their winning ways with them to Progressive Field in Cleveland, as they opened a three-game series with the Cleveland Indians. After sweeping the Chicago White Sox at home and taking three of four from the Washington Nationals in a home-and-home set, Tampa Bay took the field behind Erasmo Ramirez looking to keep up his recent success.
The Rays offense did its part to give Ramirez the lead he wanted early. After a lead-off walk to Kevin Kiermaier and a single by Joey Butler, Evan Longoria launched his seventh big fly of the year. Indians' starter Corey Kluber left a 2-2 pitch middle-in for Longo and he sent it packing to the left-field deck.
The Rays added to that lead in the top half of the third, as the top third of the lineup continued its success. A Kiermaier single and stolen base and consecutive walks to Butler and Longoria loaded the bases for David DeJesus, who grounded into a fielder's choice to plate Kiermaier and open up a 4-0 Rays' lead. It really should have been a single for DDJ, as he scorched a liner that was too hot for Carlos Santana to handle at first base, but Longoria dove back to first when the ball was hit, to avoid being doubled off, and when Santana failed to make the play, the Indians were able to beat Longo to second for the force.
Unfortunately, three innings was all Erasmo Ramirez would be able to pitch. After giving up a lead-off single to Cleveland second baseman Jason Kipnis on which he covered first base, Ramirez was visibly uncomfortable and doubled over in pain. The recently-successful Rays' starter would leave the game after pitching three innings with a strained groin. Exactly what the Rays needed, another injured starter . . .
That 4-0 lead would stay intact all the way to the bottom of the eighth, when Indians' shortstop Francisco Lindor hit an RBI fielder's choice, bringing Michael Bourn in to score, 4-1 Rays lead.
The story tonight was the success and necessary length of the Rays' bullpen. The Rays needed five pitchers to go six innings to finish it out, and the ‘pen answered the bell. Giving up a combined four hits and three walks (two courtesy of Brandon Gomes), while striking out five and only allowing one run, you couldn't ask much more from a bullpen that has pitched the most innings in Major League Baseball. Gomes labored through his eighth-inning appearance, overthrowing a number of pitches and making Rene Rivera earn his keep, and eventually loaded the bases, but he only allowed one run. Brad Boxberger got himself into a sticky situation in the bottom of the ninth, loading the bases with two outs, but got Giovanny Urshela to strike out looking to end the game successfully.
My Two Cents:
- One Rays player who would like to put this one in his rearview mirror is Logan Forsythe, who hit into three double-plays, one of which had the bases loaded (in his defense, one was also a line-out that doubled off DeJesus, but still a DP is a DP). He's played well this year, so a hard luck night was to be expected at some point.
- Evan Longoria mentioned something telling in his postgame, Gatorade-showered interview. When asked if people were asking how, with all the injuries and moving parts, the Rays kept winning and if it was a surprise, Longoria said no and mentioned that it's simply been guys getting called up, playing hard, and expecting to win. That speaks to how great the Rays' pipeline is. Guys can simply get called up at seemingly a moment's notice and, more often than not, are ready to step in and contribute immediately. That's a luxury to have, especially with the parity in the division and the league thus far this season.
- Kiermaier hit his sixth triple of the season, tied for the MLB lead. He knows how to baseball real good.
- The Rays moved to 10 games over .500 tonight while the Red Sox dropped a lead to the Royals and snatched defeat out of the jaws of victory (I blame Instagram).
|Roll Call Info|
|Commenter list||AndrewTorrez, Ben Tumbling, Brickhaus, CSG BBR, Chairboy23, DFAHowell, Darby Robinson, GomesSweetGomes, Grimesy22, Ian Malinowski, JRTW612, Jrjs, Landlord, Mister Lizzie, MrWizzle21, Noles95', Pocoroba, Rays1118, RazeTheRoof, all pRays, barnecles, carl.butler.7311, essenpee, fire3, jlmccal2, killa3312, magicrays, nomo.red.evil, thedudeofdudes, witty, youcancallmeRayRay|