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Rays 9, Yankees 5: Conger Smash!

Rays take big lead, hang on for win over Evil Empire.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays beat the Yankees 9-5 in front of 20,188 at the Trop behind solid pitching from Matt Moore and some great hitting. It was a game that wouldn't have been as close as it was, if not for some sketchy defense and shoddy bullpen work.

But first, the good news. And there was a lot of it.

Matt Moore is good

It didn't exactly start out that way, after Matty Moe surrendered singles to the first two batters of the day. But a comebacker by Carlos Beltran turned into a 1-4-3 double play, and a strikeout of Alex Rodriguez on a nice 3-2 curve extricated him from the jam.

That curve would be a sign of things to come, as Moore's fastball was decent but not spectacular and his change was seldom used. It was his curve that was electric today. He threw it 35 times, 25 of which went for strikes. He threw it ahead in the count to put hitters away, and he threw it behind in the count to get even. The curve is the pitch that allowed Moore to pitch into the seventh inning for the first time since forever.

Moore did not have a clean inning on the day, but went six and two-thirds innings, giving up three (technically) earned runs, while striking out seven and walking three. He did surrender a solo homer to Carlos Beltran after the game was already firmly under control, but overall this was the best Moore has looked since his early April starts. The only reason he didn't finish the seventh was the aforementioned shoddy defense, which we'll get to in a bit.

In Play: Run(s)

Hey, scoring is fun! And for the Rays, it started early. After Brandon Guyer was legit-HBP'd by Michael Pineda, Brad Miller followed with a nice piece of hitting that resulting in a double up the left field line, putting runners on second and third for Evan Longoria. Longo did not disappoint, lifting an 0-1 slider high to left, scoring Guyer on the sac fly.

Steve Pearce kept the action going with a hard single to left, moving Miller to third. Next came the red hot Logan Morrison, who took a mighty swing -- and hit a swinging bunt up the third base line. With Chase Headley practically playing shortstop due to the shift, there was no play. Miller scored, everybody safe. 2-0 Rays.

Steven Souza followed on what could have been an inning ending double play grounder to short, but the Yankees took a little too much time turning it and Stevie busted it up the line to beat it out. That would be important, because Corey Dickerson followed by taking 1-1 changeup the other way, plating Pearce and giving the Rays a 3-0 lead.

And that was just the first inning! Then there was the second!

With two outs, Brad Miller "tripled" on a ball Beltran misplayed badly. Evan Longoria followed, and took an 0-1 fastball into Ducky's. 5-0 Rays.

After the Beltran homer in the fourth made it 5-1, the Rays got the run right back in the bottom on the inning. Hank Conger rocked a double into the triangle in left center to lead off the inning. Two batters later, Evan Longoria collected his fourth RBI of the game with a single through the middle. 6-1 Rays.

The Rays salted away what should have been a laugher in the fifth. After Logan Morrison ripped a double to right and Steven Souza worked a walk, Luis Cessa came on for the Yankees. He retired Dickerson and Mikie Mahtook, but then left one over the plate to Hank Conger. And as we all know, you just don't leave a pitch over the plate to Hank Conger.

9-1 Rays.

Things Get Dicey

After striking out Dustin Ackley to lead off the seventh, Moore got Chase Headley to pop out to second. Except there was once again some confusion in the infield, this time between Pearce and Miller, and the ball ended up dropping between them for the "single." A clearly frustrated Moore then walked Didi Gregorius on four pitches, and it was officially a jam. Austin Romine made the Rays pay by grounding a single to right past Pearce -- who had the play shaded up the middle -- scoring Ackley. 9-2 Rays.

Jacoby Ellsbury followed with a hard single to left to load the bases for Aaron Hicks. But MattyMoe buckled down recorded a foul tip strike out. This ended Matt's evening, as Cash called on Enny Romero.

Oh, Enny. How do you describe Enny Romero? He walked Ronald Torreyes -- who had entered the game earlier for Beltran -- on six pitches, with ball four not being particularly competitive. 9-3 Rays, bases still loaded, Alex Rodriguez coming up. So what does Enny do? He comes back to strike out ARod on a beautiful four-pitch sequence, starting the Yankee cleanup hitter with a nasty cutter and finishing him with high heat. Crisis averted.

More Drama

You'd think that that would be enough. But no! Enny wasn't done making it interesting. After striking out Starlin Castro to lead off the seventh, he gave up four straight singles. 9-5 Rays. The hits came after repeatedly getting ahead, then failing to put hitters away. Romero continued to go to the high heat, and often missed with it. When he didn't miss with it, it was predictable and hittable. Just not a good outing for Enny.

Thankfully, Xavier Cedeno came on to put out the fire in the eighth, and Alex Colome worked a perfect ninth (in a game that was 9-1 at one point? Geez.) to close things out. Rays win!

Notes

  • Hank Conger smacked another double in the eighth, making him just the second Rays catcher (Dioner Navarro is the other) to record three extra base hits in a game.
  • Conger also recorded his second caught stealing of the season, although this one was on a challenge after Chase Headley stole the bag easily but popped off second momentarily. I guess it's better to get those than to lose them, but I still hate the rule.
  • For those of you who like big, round numbers, Beltran's homer was his 2500th career hit.
Roll Call Info
Total comments 30
Total commenters 12
Commenter list Banestar, Bradley Neveu, CheezeySniper, EvenLongoria, Love Doctor, Mister Lizzie, Noles95', Rays1118, RazeTheRoof, nomo.red.evil, stingraypete, thedudeofdudes
Story URLs

# Recs Commenter Comment Link
2 EvenLongoria Just wanna say I'm super glad BA is back.
2 stingraypete 6.9 WAR
1 stingraypete don't even try on "Canon" Conger