This afternoon the Rays played the Cuban National Team in at Estadio Latinoamericano in Havana, Cuba. The first game played by an MLB team in Cuba since the Baltimore Orioles played an exhibition in March, 1999. The Rays were warmly welcomed by an excited 55,000+ fans, former baseball players, members of congress, and the Obama family.
Inning 1: The Teams Settle In.
Dayron Varona became the first Cuban born player that defected to be welcomed back to Cuba and led off the game with an infield fly out to first base. Brad Miller lined a ball to the centerfielder who made a catch falling to the side that he was able to hold onto. Evan Longoria would end the inning with a strikeout looking.
In the bottom of the first Matt Moore allowed back to back singles with one out to Yordan Manduley and Yosvani Alarcon after a medium depth fly ball to Desmond Jennings. Moore would get out of the jam with two ground balls to end the inning.
The Cuban crowd was very vocal in the support of their team causing a roar whenever anything positive happened for the home team. On a medium depth fly ball the crowd would be loud that would remind you of a game at Fenway.
Innings 2-4: Loney drives in 3.
In the second Kevin Kiermaier would record the first hit for the Rays on a solid "single" to the outfield that KK would turn into a double with two outs. Desmond Jennings would work a walk in an extended at bat. James Loney would drive in KK with a ground ball that finds a hole to reach the right fielder as KK would slide in just ahead of a good throw by the Cuban RF Jose Adolis Garcia.
After an uneventful third inning Jennings would draw a four pitch walk, his second of the game. Loney would ambush the first pitch of the at bat sending a line drive over the right field wall bringing Loney's RBI total to three. The Rays would hold a 3-0 lead.
Innings 5-9: Moore continues to cruise.
Matt Moore pitched a relatively quiet six inning. Moore scattered six hits, all singles, while striking out three and walking one and allowing zero runs.
In the seventh inning Mikie Mahtook would lead off with a walk. Mahtook would proceed to steal second base before Steve Pearce single to drive in Mahtook to extend the Rays lead to 4-0. The Rays would load the bases with one out allowing Richie Shaffer the opportunity to put the game away for the Rays, but Shaffer hit a bullet directly at the short stop who was able to turn the 6-5-4 double play to get out of the inning.
Ryan Webb worked a clean seventh inning putting the Cuban team down in order. Xavier Cedeno worked a scoreless eighth as he allowed one hit, a triple that landed between Steven Souza, Jr. and the right field foul line, and struck out two.
Alex Colome was brought in to close out the game for the Rays in the bottom of the ninth. After striking out Jose Adolis Garcia, Colome would leave up a pitch to Rudy Reyes that he would take for a ride to put the Cuban team on the board. Colome would end the game by striking out Guillermo Aviles swinging and preventing the tying run from coming to the plate.
After the game players from both teams exchanged jerseys as you would come to expect after a soccer match. The Rays represented Major League Baseball well during their two day trip to Cuba.