Wednesday night found the Rays looking to come back from a disappointing loss at the hands of the Texas Rangers on Tuesday, after squandering a lead late due to bad pitching and bad defense.
The rubber match in the series nearly went the same way, but luckily for Tampa Bay, the baseball gods bestowed some late-game heroics upon them!
Chicks dig the long ball, and the Rays had it working on Wednesday night, bashing four home runs off of Rangers pitching.
In fact, the only thing better than the home runs themselves was the timing with which the Rays let ‘em loose, hitting three of the four in ninth and tenth innings.
Steven Souza Jr. got the party started in the top of the second inning, launching a 455ft moonshot to left field off of Texas rookie Austin Bibens-Dirx, who made his MLB debut on Wednesday. What a welcome! The shot was an absolute no-doubter; you knew it from the sound of the bat!
Souza’s dinger put the Rays up 2-1, and the lead would eventually be 3-1 until some continued sloppy defense and pitching (more on that to come) allowed the Rangers to take the lead 4-3 entering the top of the ninth.
Enter Kevin Kiermaier.
KK was the Rays last hope, with two gone in the ninth, when he jumped on the very first pitch he saw from Matt Bush and shot it into deep right field, tying the game at four!
The freshly recalled Austin Pruitt made things interesting in the bottom of the ninth, but was able to get the Rays into the tenth, where Logan Morrison decided to put on some heroics of his own, hitting a Sam Dyson offering juuuuussssstttt enough the opposite way to left field to clear the wall and put the Rays on top 5-4.
Not to be outdone, Derek Norris decided to get in on the act, hitting another Dyson pitch to nearly the exact same spot, this time with Tim Beckham on base, giving the Rays the 7-4 advantage they’d need to win the series to open the westward road trip!
Archer Gets It Done
It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t flashy. No double-digit strikeouts, no impressive shutout inning streaks.
On Wednesday, Chris Archer did just enough to get the Rays to a much-needed off day with a W. The biggest thing the Rays needed their ace to do was eat innings and give them a chance to produce offensively.
Archer threw seven innings and racked up seven K’s to go along with it. He needed 114 pitches to get it done and they weren’t exactly the quality pitches we’re used to seeing from him. Most notably, his slider became a liability. He relied on it way too much, especially late in his outing, when he was already showing signs of fatigue. He hung a number of those breaking balls to good hitters and, quite frankly, he was lucky to get away with only four earned runs.
That said, he got the job done. He was able to limit the already-gassed bullpen’s exposure to only two pitchers, Pruitt and Alex Colome’, and kept the offense within striking distance to do their job.
In the end, this isn’t a start that’s going to stand out or make SportsCenter. In fact, most people here in Tampa Bay will look right past this start tomorrow morning. But we know that the teams that survive the dog days of summer and, hopefully, play meaningful games in September and October, need wins like this, get wins like this, and relish wins like this, especially from your locker room leaders, like Chris Archer.
· Austin Bibens-Dirx sounds like a character out of Star Wars. The X at the end of his last name just makes it that much more Sci-Fi.
· Speaking of the Rangers pitcher, I do think it’s pretty awesome that he stuck with baseball and finally lived his dream, making the Show at 32 years old after some pretty long odds. Too bad the result wasn’t better for him. #sorrynotsorry
· After the month of May Kiermaier had, it looks like the baseball gods are ready to turn their attention to someone else, preferably on a different team. How about anyone on the Red Sox for starters?