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Tampa Bay 6 Oakland 5 : Don’t stop til you get enough

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Today is the Rays throwback to the 1970s day, playing an old fashioned double heading wearing their fauxback goldenrod and Columbia blue uniforms, with 1970s walk-up music.

The first two innings were relatively quiet, although Rays pitcher Erasmo Ramirez yielded a few hits. The Rays early baserunners were erased on the base paths, Logan Morrison thrown out on a caught stealing (or botched hit and run) after singling, and Tim Beckham getting doubled off first after Michael Martinez lined out.

Oakland A’s offense at work

The top of the third was the Athletic’s big inning, as they recorded five straight hits, scoring three runs. Ramirez was not fully hitting his spots but he also some bad luck with hard hit grounders just out of fielders’ reach. Fortunately after the five hits, the next hard hit ground ball went directly to Tim Beckham who started the inning ending double play. It could have been worse.

Ramirez didn’t have a much easier time in the top of the fourth inning. To start the inning, Beckham booted a tough but not insanely difficult grounder for an error, and the lead off man was on. Ramirez walked Brugman and hit Phlegley with a pitch, so bases were loaded with no outs. With Matt Joyce up, a lefty who had singled in his first at bat and who has had some memorable grand slam home runs, it seemed that the A’s were on the verge of blowing the game open.

But Joyce did the one thing he could do to really help the Rays: he grounded to the pitcher who was able to start a 1-2-3 double play. A fly ball ended the inning. So at the end of four, the Athletics led, 3-0 and Erasmo was already at 72 pitches while Oakland starter Sonny Gray looked to be cruising.

Rays get on the board

In the bottom of the fourth an error put the lead off man, speedster Mallex Smith, on base. Longoria, who showed some frustration after a first inning strike out, laced a double into right, fielded too cleanly by Joyce to allow Mallex to score, so there were men on second and third base for the sadly not as hot as earlier Logan Morrison, who struck out while chasing a pitch on the outside. But Souza, who has had some two out mojo lately, swatted a single, just enough to get two runs home. It’s a ballgame, 3-2 at the end of the fourth.

In the Rays half of the sixth, Longo doubled on a fly ball in the gap that really should have been caught by one of the two fielders. Morrison moved him to third with a ground ball into the shift on which Logan showed some impressive hustle and turned from routine to close. After a Rasmus strike out, Beckham, whose 70s theme walk-up music is Michael Jackson’s “Don’t Stop Til You Get Enough” came to the plate.

Despite the righty-on-righty match up, Beckham lashed a double scoring two. Then, wonder of wonders, Michael Martinez chopped an infield single, and Beckham dashed toward home. Unfortunately the A’s seemed to have him by a mile as the ball was fired to catcher Phegley. But Phegley bobbled the ball, Beckham slid in safely to score the fifth run, with the Rays holding a 5-3 lead.

Can I stop writing here?

Sadly, not.

Rays can’t get 9 clean outs

Ramirez had been pulled after putting two men in the top of the sixth, with Chase Whitley completing that inning and starting the seventh. However, he yielded consecutive singles, at which point Cash pulled him in favor of power lefty Jose Alvarado to get lefty swinging Yonder Alsono. After facing the one batter, Alvarado gave way to Tommy Hunter. Hunter unfortunately gave up a run scoring single to Ryon Healy, cutting the Rays lead in half. Another hit loaded the bases, as Hunter faced pinch hitter Stephen Vogt with 2 outs. Vogt enjoyed a prolonged at bat but eventually popped up to Beckham to end the inning.

Danny Farquhar got the Rays through the eighth with their delicate one run lead, and on came Alex Colome, who had converted 12 straight save opportunities. That streak, however, would sadly end today. Two doubles and we had a tie ballgame. Has extra innings ever seemed as unappealing as when there is a whole other game looming ahead of you?

Fortunately veterans Peter Bourjos and Evan Longoria decided, in the tenth inning, that they had seen enough. Bourjos singled and moved to second on a wild pitch. Longoria lined a rope toward 162 Landing, which didn’t have enough lift to end the Rays walk-off homer drought, but did have enough distance to score Bourjos with the winning run.

Final observations

  • After striking out in the 7th, the camera showed Mallex Smith after he had returned to the dugout, where he was intently jotting something down in an old-school looking notebook. The kids is taking notes! I think some of us just fell a little bit in love.

  • On the other hand, seeing him come try to launch a throw in the direction of home plate from center field after Healy’s seventh inning hit was a reminder that while he may take up some of the slack in center field following Kiermaier’s lengthy loss, he does not have the KK arm.
  • Oakland is known this year for its subpar defense. That was on display today with two costly errors, but also provided good illustration of why errors don’t tell the whole story. Longoria’s sixth inning double was in the left-center gap, but had enough hang time to allow one of the fielders to catch it. They both seemed to hesitate, however, and the ball fell in. Neither had gotten close enough to be charged with an error, and yet their negligence was costly.
  • Speaking of bad stats, want an argument against pitcher wins? Austin Pruitt is now 5-1.