There’s a version of this recap, now lost to the sands of time, where I start by lamenting the horrible performance of the Rays’ bullpen. Despite the Bizarro World Austin Pruitt, who pitches 3.1 innings allowing only one hit, the Rays’ bullpen seemed to falter when it mattered the most: the sixth inning. The team, after all, blew a 5-1 lead in the span of four outs, giving me whiplash to rival that of J.K. Simmons. A 7-5 lead, to this Detroit bullpen, is certainly not insurmountable, yet a blown lead (especially one of that caliber) stings all the more.
BUT BUT BUT
With one out in the bottom of the ninth, Logan Morrison, hit a dribbler that appeared destined to be a game-ending double play. Kinsler-to-Iglesias: one out. Iglesias on the transfer...
After dissecting the replay like the Zapruder Film, it is clear that Iglesias slipped on the bag while making the transfer, perhaps struck by a second shooter in the grassy knoll. He crumpled to the ground, still throwing the ball to first. The ball sailed past Cabrera, perhaps the first time in his life he has felt powerless to stop something, anything. This allowed pinch-runner Peter Bourjos to score from second, giving the Rays an unbelievable and unlikely win. It is one of those things you have to see to believe.
@draysbay I'll do it for you: "You just have to see that sort of thing for yourself."— Joseph McMahan (@RaysWhiteBoard) April 20, 2017
What a cool and original thought by me.
The Rays offense put up an excellent effort tonight, knocking Tigers starter Jordan Zimmerman for five runs rather early on. With that sort of lead, one has to feel pretty good, what with your ace Chris Archer on the mound early on.
And Archer certainly found a groove early on, working around a first inning triple and a fourth-inning double to put up goose eggs in those particular innings. Archer did allow a run in the third inning, when Miguel Cabrera singled home Ian Kinsler, who reached on a single and a stolen base. Then again, who among us hasn’t given up an RBI to Miggy every now and then? Let he who is without an earned run cast the first stone!
The offense did their job, supporting Archer. Of particular interest was the performance of Evan Longoria, who broke out of a season-long (two-weeks-long, to be exact) slump in the first inning after Dickerson smacked a double to center and Kiermaier moved him to third on a bunt single of his own. The Rays didn’t record an out until the fourth batter, and didn’t end the inning until yet another run was scored by one Steven Souza Jr.
The Rays struck for three runs more in the fourth inning. Shane Peterson doubled, and Dickerson singled him home with two outs. Kiermaier doubled him to third, and Longoria (remember him?) singled them both home for that 5-1 lead.
But all good things come to an end. And Rays’ leads are good, relatively speaking.
Archer’s outing was cut short in the fifth after he struggled to close the deal. After allowing a single to the number 9 hitter, and walking Ian Kinsler, Archer faced a bad situation with no outs. With the Murderer’s Row of Cabrera and Victor Martinez looming large, Archer could not shut them down, allowing three runs back in the span of just a few pitches.
The next inning was even worse. With a one-run lead, the Rays turned to Danny Farquhar, a consistently solid pitcher as of late. Unfortunately, Farquhar was not up to his usual self tonight, walking James McCann on four pitches and hitting Andrew Romine. The Tigers almost bailed him out with a botched bunt that turned into a double play (supported by review), yet Farquhar had not yet thrown a strike.
Cash turned to Jumbo Diaz, who too faltered. He walked the next two men he faced. With nowhere to put Nick Castellanos, he saw fit to allow a bases-clearing triple that Kiermaier narrowly missed. This put the Tigers up two runs: 7-5.
This, fortunately, was not the end.
Austin Pruitt hung tougher than tougher, letting the Rays clawwwwww their way back in. In the ninth, down a run, Kiermaier and Longoria reached base. Kiermaier’s 7-pitch at bat was excellent, and Longoria narrowly missed hitting a walk-off home run (something the Rays haven’t seen since 5/22/2014), putting men on second and third with no one out.
The Tigers walked Brad Miller to load the bases, and Steven Souza, he of the high strikeouts but intense power, stood between victory and agonizing defeat. Souza worked an intense 9-pitch at bat, and eventually struck out swinging on a pitch that was outside. Home plate ump Larry Vanover saw Souza Jr. go around and neglected to appeal to the first base ump, ringing him up. Kevin Cash was having none of it, and was ejected after screaming plenty four-letter words everyone in the stadium could hear.
And the rest, as they say, is history.
Pruitt (!) gets his first major league win, for a job well done. Tomorrow the Rays look for a sweep! Of a bonafide baseball team! Life sure is weird.