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TB 10, TEX 8: Strike up ‘ Stars and Stripes Forever,’ because Souza is leading the band

Jose De Leon earns win in Rays debut

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers
It is prophecy: every two innings, Souza will score. So it shall be done!
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Do you like offense? Do you think pitchers deserve to be left, lonely and stranded on their little hill, to watch baseballs sail across the sky? Well, boy howdy, was this game for you.

Rough Start

The Rangers got started right away against Erasmo, who was far from the ErACEmo we have come to know and love. Here’s what happened before the first out was recorded:





-Sac Fly (here’s the first out)

3 runs scored, and it was a sign of things to come.

Erasmo spent last night in constant terror from Rangers hitters, whose hits were scorched and whose outs were loud. He left after just one out in the 3rd, with runners left at 2nd and 3rd.

Jose Alvarado got the call to clean up the mess, and clean it up he did. Alvarado used his brilliant fastball/breaking ball one-two punch to strike out Odor swinging, and got Lucroy to ground out harmlessly, ending the threat.

One thing about this game, and really about the Rays 2017 season: there were a lot of times this one seemed to be slipping away. But the Rays offense was not going to let that happen.

Souza and Dickerson lead the band

The Rays offense tonight started right at the top, with Steven Souza Jr and Corey Dickerson putting on a show. The 1-2 hitters for the Rays combined for 7 hits, 3 of which were doubles, and 5 runs scored.

Souza scored runs in the 1st, the 3rd, the 5th, and the 7th. He’s an unconventional leadoff hitter, but the results were exactly what you would dream for a leadoff guy.

Each time the Rangers would re-take the lead, the Rays had an answer.

Rangers extend lead to 4-1? Well, here comes Daniel Robertson, Souza, and Dickerson to start a rally in the 3rd. Rangers add another run in the 4th? How about Evan Longoria ties that all up with a two-run bomb in the very next half inning?

The best of this counter punching came after the Rangers were able to break the tie with two runs against Jose De Leon (more on that later). Souza lead off in the top of the 7th, with the Rays down 7-5. A Souza leadoff double, and a Dickerson HBP later, and the rally was on.

Of course the rally looked off almost immediately after a weak grounder by Longo and a swinging K by LoMo. But Colby Rasmus didn’t get the “give up” memo and tied the game with a well struck double.

With Rasmus on 2nd, the Rangers intentionally walked Kiermaier to pitch to Tim Beckham. Bex made them pay with a majestic 3-run blast!

De Leon Debut

In the 6th inning, Jose De Leon made his major league Rays debut. He immediately had the stupidly powerful Joey Gallo to deal with. De Leon started him with his curveball (very Odorizzi-esc), and finished him off with a fastball for the swinging strikeout.

De Leon got a little wild after that. After a base hit by Robinson Chirinos, De Leon threw some extra “wild” wild pitches, plunking the home plate ump in the foot twice and walking Jared Hoying. Shin-soo Choo was able to drive in the two runs to give the Rangers another lead.

De Leon fared better in the 7th, getting weak contact from Odor and Lucroy and striking out Chirinos swinging on what looked like his slider.

Choo struck again, this time with a very deep HR in the 8th off of JDL. De Leon would have to give way to Chase Whitley to retire Adrian Beltre. A mixed bag for sure, and with quite an erratic (and extra small) strikezone, Jose De Leon showed some stuff to build around in his first appearance for the Rays.

He also earned his first win, for those who keep track of such things.

Extra Notes:

  • Alex Colome had pitched two innings the day before. He came in last night and struck out the side. Straight filthy.
  • Tim Beckham had a high toss on a Rangers run down, and it let Texas off the hook. However, Bex would more than make up for that defensive miscue, with a tremendous catch and throw home on an infield in sharp grounder. Beckham saved one run there and added three later with a huge HR.
  • A stat during the start of the Rays broadcast: Erasmo was the first pitcher since Steve Farr of the Cleveland Indians in 1984 to record a save and start a game the very next day.
  • It was a curious choice, starting Erasmo after his save appearance just the day before. Many assumed that it would be De Leon who would get the call up, since it was his turn in the rotation in Durham. While he did get the call up, it was for the piggyback start.

With Erasmo only going 2 innings and change, and having to use both Alvarado and Stanek to escape mid-inning jams, De Leon was up and down in the pen getting warm before he finally got the ball in the 6th. I have no idea whether the up and down, or the adjustment to this bullpen appearance contributed to his less than stellar debut. Regardless, it was a curious choice by Cash and company.