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Rays 5, Rangers 9: Late-inning lightning shocks Rays

Colby Rasmus gets how I feel right now.

Colby Rasmus prepares for My Chemical Romance tonight.

Well that sucked. It looked good for a while, but it started poor and ended worse. When you lead a game by three runs in the seventh you feel pretty good about your chances, so anything other than a win feels like a disappointment. But lets run through that disappointment together, shall we?

One of the more inauspicious starts in recent memory for a Rays pitcher, as Shin-Soo Choo took the very first pitch he saw from Matt Andriese out of the ballpark to give the Rangers an early lead. Up until then, lefties had been hitting .158 against the Rays’ winningest starter, making the Choo homer even more of an aberration. Something was clearly wrong right off the bat with Matt. Andriese allowed another run that inning before starting the second behind 2-0. With two outs in the books, Evan Longoria clearly noticed that something was up. Longo called Kevin Cash out to the mound, and Andriese ended up leaving with what ended up bring a groin injury.

Considering Andriese’s pitch velocity had been falling all outing (source: a graph I saw on Twitter and now cannot for the life of me find) a mild groin strain is not the worst thing to happen to Andriese. Hopefully his inevitable DL trip is short.

After a first-inning one-out triple left Kevin Kiermaier stranded at third base, the night seemed destined to be one of aborted offensive attempts and hard-luck losses. Despite the frustrating first inning, the Rays offense once again managed to replicate the strong showings of the past week (or month, or season) or so. Daniel Robertson, of all people, led off the scoring in the fourth with a home run. Corey Dickerson, surprise surprise, followed that up with a double off of this pitch:

Another day, another multi-hit game.

Kiermaier bunted him over and Longoria hit a sac fly to score Corey “Sparkplug” Dickerson. The game was tied, but the Rays wouldn’t end it there. Logan Morrison walked right after Longo’s sac fly, and Steven Souza Jr. smacked a 400+ home run over the wall in left. This Souza Shot put the Rays up 4-2.

This lead is nice and all, but as we’ve learned the past few days, one needs to be able to actually hold a dang lead. And the early lead wouldn’t have remained without Hu. Chih-Wei Hu. Called up from Durham today, Hu was unceremoniously thrust into the second inning after Andriese left with his groin injury. Hu struck out the first batter he faced, and ended up walking two men in 2.1 innings, allowing no hits and keeping the game pat. Hu’s filthy changeup was painting the bottom of the zone, and Rangers hitters were biting. Especially Joey Gallo, who hits balls a very long way but swings and misses so hard the tides shift in the Gulf of Mexico.

Tommy Hunter, one of the only Rays pitchers to not pitch yesterday, it seemed, came on for the fifth and sixth innings. Hunter did even better than Hu, allowing merely one hit off of a ball that a diving Longoria barely missed. Hunter’s stake was made slightly easier by a fifth inning home run by Kevin Kiermaier.

The game, unfortunately, was far from over. Danny Farquhar, with two outs and two runners on, allowed a game-tying, three-run home run to Elvis Andrus on a fat, middle-of-the-road fastball. Andrus’ 7th homer of the year was a big one, knocking Farquhar out of the game.

Chase Whitley entered to relieve Farquhar’s disastrous seventh, left the inning with the game still tied, but then allowed four more in the eighth inning, giving the Rangers the late-inning runs that they so desperately wanted.

Hunter Wood came in for his major league debut, which is fantastic and worthy of its own article, honestly. He retired the only batter he faced, so good for him! I could write more about this inning before Wood arrived, but do you really want more? I will if you want more. But I honestly can’t see you feeling that way It was lame and bad, end of story.

The Rays look to take the series tomorrow behind the sturdy back of Chris Archer. It’s not Darvish, so you gotta feel at least a little but okay. Here’s hoping.