The Rays got a run early. Logan Forsythe led off the game by flipping a liner the other way into right field for a single. Forsythe then advanced to second on a swinging bunt up the line by Brad Miller, and to third on a hard-hit Evan Longoria grounder to the second baseman. Corey Dickerson, batting fourth, hit the ball much less hard than Longo had, but his grounder dribbled through a hole and into right field, and Forsythe was able to trot home.
The Rays added a run in the second inning, and while the first one may have came on an anticlimactic dribbler, run number two was emphatic. When Tim Beckham, playing first base, came up to bat, the Oakland announcers wondered why he was playing instead of the lefty Logan Morrison. I wondered too. But maybe there’s a method. Gray tried to throw a low fastball but it came too far up into the zone and Beckham was on it, sending it high over the left-center wall.
But Matt Moore could not hold the early lead. In the bottom of the second inning, a Danny Valencia grounder found its way up the middle, and Billy Butler got on base as well. That set the table for center-fielder Jake Smolinski. Moore gave him a pretty bat fastball, catching a lot of zone, and Smolinski clobbered it for a three-run homer to put Oakland on top.
The Rays got the run back with their second home run off the night when Corey Dickerson took an elevated fastball out the other way to tie the game at three.
The fifth inning is when the Rays broke things open for good. Beckham and Luke Maile lead off with back-to-back singles, and then Forsythe hit a sharp liner up the middle that would have been a single, but that landed on the front edge of second base and bounced wildly into right-center, becoming a double. Miller and Longoria followed that up with singles (Longo getting himself caught in a rundown), and Corey Dickerson brought the fourth run home on with a sac fly to left field.
That four-run outburst put the Rays up for good. Matt Moore and the Rays relievers would allow no more runs.
Some other notes:
- It looked like an awful tall zone (although Brooks’s strikezone map doesn’t really say so). Both Steven Souza Jr. and Marcus Semien appeared to strike out in the first couple innings on pitches that pretty clearly looked like high balls.
- Tim Beckham got hits in his first three at bats, meaning that he just rattled off a run of eight hits in eight consecutive at bats. That ties a Rays record (with Aubrey Huff), according to the Oakland broadcast.
- Matt Moore lasted seven innings, giving up three runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out six batters. I thought his fastball looked very good when he was able to drive it to the bottom of the zone (Oakland was able to get to it when elevated), and he was able to break off some really nice curves as well.
- The top of the order had a good day, with the first four spots in the lineup all getting hits, and all four of them except Longoria having a multi-hit game.
- We’ve wrung our hands a lot about why Chris Archer has struggled this season. I’m sure Oakland fans are doing the same thing with Sonny Gray. He has all the pitches. But it just hasn’t worked for him this year.