Hey, this was a fun game. We should do this more often.
Tonight at the Trop, the Rays knocked off the Astros 3-1. Erasmo Ramirez brought his A-game en route to the win, working six innings and giving up just one run on four hits and a walk, while picking up five strikeouts along the way. Still, it looked for a while like it wouldn't be enough, as the lone run he surrendered -- a homer to Colby Rasmus in the second -- was the only scoring going on for quite a while. If anything, Collin McHugh was even more sharp for the Astros, giving up just one hit -- a single by James Loney through the shift in the first -- through the first five innings.
The Luck Dragons Finally Show Up
If you were the superstitious sort, you might have thought something was up when the Rays won a challenge (no really!) to turn a double play in the top of the sixth. But you're not superstitious, are you?
Liar. We all felt it.
Then came the bottom of the sixth. It started simply enough, with a Rene Rivera grounder into the hole at short. It was going to be a tough play for Carlos Correa, but if he comes up with it, he's got a decent chance to get Rivera because, well, Rene Rivera. So Correa lays out for it. Lays out a little too far, in fact, and the ball deflected off the heel of his glove and into left field for a single. To quote Brian Anderson, he had too much range.
John Jaso followed by driving a 1-1 slider into right field. It's a single if they're playing him straight up, but the outfield is swung around playing Jaso to go the other way, allowing Jaso to hustle into second with a double on a nice (feet first!) slide. Second and third, no outs, David DeJesus is up, and we got us a rally.
The luck dragons cut both ways for DDJ, as he rips a 2-2 slider toward the hole between first and second. Chris Carter makes a great play to rob DeJesus of a hit, but since he has to leave his feet to do so, he can't make a play at the plate on Rivera. Tie game, Jaso to third, one out.
Evan Longoria follows with a sharp grounder to Correa, and Jaso is running on contact. If Correa fields it cleanly, Jaso is probably dead to rights at home. But Correa bobbles it and has to settle for getting Longo at first. 2-1 Rays.
Hey, Who's the New Guy?
Oh, hey, Jake McGee is pitching! Complain if you want about pulling Ramirez after six with a relatively low pitch count, but I'm gonna take McGee in that situation every time. And even though he did give up a leadoff double to Luis Valbuena, Jake did not disappoint, setting down Gattis, Rasmus, and Carter in order shortly thereafter. Even dropped in a curve to finish Rasmus.
Cash even let McGee come back out to start the 8th, where he retired Marwin Gonzalez before taking a seat for the night and turning it over to the rest of the pen. But before we get there:
We Got That Insurance
Brandon Guyer did this in the bottom of the 7th.
Finishing It Off
Kevin Jepsen finished off the eighth inning, which was nice. But what was really encouraging was Brad Boxberger, who pitched the ninth for his 21st save. Whatever tweaks Boxy made to get rid of the pitch-tipping thing worked, and he looked like the guy we saw last season. Using the fastball and change exclusively, he recorded two strikeouts and a flyout while retiring the side in order. Rays win, 3-1.
Tomorrow is a 4:10 start as the Rays take on the Astros for the second of this three game set. Let's get on a roll into this All-Star break, fellas.
This and That
- Rivera threw out Jose Altuve in the first to erase a lead off single. He's now thrown out 11 of the last 20 and 17 of the last 33 would-be base stealers. Just stop, guys. You're embarrassing yourself.
- Weird play: With two outs in the second and Chris Carter on first, Jason Castro lined one into right center. Kevin Kiermaier boogied over to cut it off, saw Carter headed to third, then overboogied a throw to third. Now, normally the downside to this would be that Castro was going to move up to second (which he did). But in this case, the downside is that, um, well, see, nobody was covering third. The shift had been on, and ... actually, I don't know why Evan didn't get over to the bag, other than he was surprised and caught flatfooted. It was up to Erasmo, who was hustling over to back up the play, to actually catch the ball and avert disaster. And then he proceeded to strike out Jake Marisnick to end the inning. Cause that's how Erasmo rolls.
- Winning >>> Losing.
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