If wasted scoring opportunities are your thing, this was your kinda game. Also, they have medication for that. But if closers melting down are your cup of tea: first, what's wrong with you??? But second, and more important, you'll have to wait till next time, as the Rays escaped Oakland with a 2-1 win behind a resurgent Smyly, sparkling middle relief, and just enough offense, thanks to Desmond Jennings.
The Rays pushed the game's first run across way back in the second, when Bassitt -- part of the return in Samardzija trade -- gave up an RBI single to left to Jennings, scoring Logan Forsythe with an assist from Coco Crisp's noodle arm. Frosty had reached initially on a HBP, then moved up on a wild pitch during Cabrera's at bat.
Now About Those Baserunners
But most of the baserunners in the early going were of the lone variety. It wasn't until the fifth that things picked up in earnest. In their half of the inning, the Rays loaded the bases without the ball leaving the infield -- a bunt single by Cabrera, a soft groundout by Jennings, a single off Bassitt's glove by Kiermaier, a walk by Casali. And then on the best struck ball of the inning, John Jaso grounded into a 4-6-3 DP.
As for Drew Smyly, he was much better than his last time out. This isn't to say he was great, but he was solidly good enough. He didn't have much swing-and-miss stuff, but his command was better, and he did induce lots of pop ups, fly balls, and some soft contact. In his 5 2/3 innings, he gave up no runs, 7 hits and no walks. He only managed two strikeouts, but both were in huge moments. The first big moment was in the bottom of the fifth.
After retiring the first two, Smyly gave up singles to Crisp and Semien, setting up a tough match up against Billy Burns, finally getting Burns on an elevated fastball with the eighth pitch of the at bat to retired the side.
After the Rays wasted a Sizemore leadoff double in the sixth, Smyly was right back in hot water as the A's loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the frame. With Smyly pushing 90 pitches, Hickey made a mound visit before the Lawrie at bat. Playing on Lawrie's aggressiveness early and late in the at bat, Drew earned just his second K, getting Lawrie swinging at another elevated fastball. Following that huge strikeout, the recently and surprisingly infallible Brandon Gomes took over, retiring Stephen Vogt on a popout to end the threat.
The Rays wasted another chance in the seventh. With two outs and Kevin Kiermaier on first, Curt Casali doubled into the left field corner. KK's good jump, great speed, and Crisp's weak arm seemed like a prime opportunity to take a chance, but Montoya put up the stop sign. Jaso was then hit with a 1-0 pitch, loading the bases, ending Bassitt's nights, and bringing on switch pitcher Pat Venditte with Grady Sizemore due up.
What followed next was odd. It is the switch pitcher's responsibility to designate which hand he intends to use when pitching to the next batter. From that point, he's locked in to that hand regardless of whether or not a pinch hitter is used. But the Rays went with switch hitter Daniel Nava instead of Guyer or Beckham, even though Venditte had to stay lefty anyway. I don't think anybody was surprised when Nava popped out to squander yet another scoring chance.
Thankfully, Gomes and Geltz put things in order in the 7th and 8th. And then, in the bottom of the 8th, Desmond Jennings said, "This leaving guys on base is lame, lemme try something else." And he did this.
2-0. But it's just a little insurance, no big deal. Boxy's got this anyway.
That Was a Big F-ing Deal
This was tonight's Brad Boxberger Experience
Lineout; Single; Single; Wild Pitch; Really Really REAAAAAAAALLLLY high pop up drops just out of Cabby's reach, scoring Lawrie, with an overboogie by KK when he tries to pick off Fuld at second, ball gets away, Loney backs it up but Fuld goes to third.
Are you kidding me? Deep breath.
Marcus Semien tries to be a hero, strikes out swinging on pitches that aren't close. Billy Burns, on an 0-2 count but after a seven pitch at bat, flies out to Jennings. Rays win.
Had it the whole way.
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