And you were worried. Silly Rays fan. Didn't you realize that staff ErACEmo was toeing the rubber today?
With a 60-65 pitch limit, it figured to be a busy bullpen day. But Erasmo Ramirez flipped the script and went 5 2/3 shutout, scattering three hits and walking no one while fanning four. It was a masterful performance when the Rays needed it most. He was also backed by nice defense, including this play in the fourth with two on and two out, when Evan Longoria went into the stands to snare a foul pop.
Now, if you watched the video, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking that a jackass fan almost cost us again. But I'm here to tell that that isn't the case. First, the ball was clearly in the stands, so it makes sense that Fat Old Guy's first move was for the ball. But at the last moment, when he sees Longo, you can see him pull off, and even box out the other dude in the process, allowing Longo to make the grab. Fat Old Guy for the win.
And that wasn't even the only nice play of the night. Erasmo made one of his own on a swinging bunt from Avisail Garcia in the 5th, and then closed out the frame by knocking down a liner a back to the mound, then recovering and casually throwing out Alex Avila. Overall, just an outstanding performance from a starter, let alone one making a spot start.
But we've gotten a few good pitching performances lately that have gone for naught. What made this game special was the offense. To quote Brian Anderson: "They scored early; they scored first; they scored."
Brandon Guyer got things going in the third inning with a line drive homer over the short wall in left.
It was a 1-0 Dank's changeup out over plate, the kind of pitch tailor made for BG's slightly out-and-around swing, and Guyer didn't disappoint, hooking it sharply into the 162 Landing.
The fourth is where the offense really got cranking. With Longoria on second and Jennings on first, Steven Souza Jr. hooked a ground ball in the hole between short and third. It was the kind of play that might have been close at the plate, but Longo appeared to get a good jump. But (perhaps) to ensure the run scored, Jennings made a wide turn around second and got caught in a pickle. Souza coasted in to second as DJ was put out on what looked like a rally-killing play.
Then Brad Miller came up, and promptly deposited one deep into right center.
In spite of his season-long slump, Miller has been making good contact lately. So this one had to feel good. I mean, just look at the forearm shiver on the celebration. That's a man letting out some frustration.
That would have been more than enough, but the Rays weren't done. After a Brett Lawrie two-run shot off Steve Geltz (who did not look good), the Rays strung together rallies in both the seventh and eighth against the Chicago pen. Longoria cashed in a bases loaded, two-out RBI single in the seventh, scoring Tim Beckham.
Then in the eighth, Jennings got his first extra base hit of the season, a homer to left. Brad Miller would close out the scoring with another hit, a double to left-center that skipped away from Austin Jackson and scored Souza all the way from first. Souza came up favoring his hand after his slide knocked the ball out of Dioner Navarro's glove, but the initial word was a jammed pinkie rather than anything serious.
Bullpen Closes It Out
Other than Geltz, who alternated missing the zone and throwing it down the middle, the pen looked solid, with Cedeno and Farquar working the final 2 1/3 scoreless innings. And that was your ballgame.
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