The Rays had a real battle in every game this series. This is not exactly how I would want to describe a series against a massively struggling White Sox club, but here we are. This is a reminder that baseball is a strange sport, and the difference between the really great and the really bad is often not a huge divide.
The Rays bats provided a nice cushion for starter Jake Odorizzi, and it came from some of the more unlikely sources.
First it was Kevin Kiermaier doubling in Tim Beckham to jump the Rays off to a quick 1-0 lead. The offense doubled that scoring effort in the very next inning. Leading off, Derek Norris hit a high, mistake Slider over the left-field wall. After that, Peter Bourjos, Corey Dickerson, and Evan Longoria all singled leading to another run.
Speaking of Peter Bourjos, he was activated today (swapping in after the tremendous debut of Jacob Faria) and he had himself quite the welcome back party.
Bourjos, not one to be confused for Giancarlo Stanton often, flexed some muscle and took a high slider deep for a massive home run. This was after Derek Norris went deep for the 2nd time on the night, and pushed the Rays lead to 6-0.
It wasn’t just his bat that was on fire tonight (I don’t think I ever thought I’d write something like that about Peter Bourjos, but baseball is a strange sport). In the top of 3rd, with the score just 1-0, Tim Beckham keyed up the Yakety Sax and just knocked and threw the ball all over the place!
However, Peter Bourjos put an end to the shenanigans, with a beautiful strike to home plate from left-field foul territory.
Jake Odorizzi had a fairly nice bounce back start, cruising early through the first 4 innings. It was a bit of a return to form for a Jake Odorizzi start. But then came the 5th inning, and then things started to teeter.
Odo walked a tightrope in the 5th (single and walk to lead off, but escape unscathed), and then almost completely fell off that tightrope in the 6th, giving up four straight hits, including a 3-run bomb to Avisail Garcia.
In the 7th, Odorizzi settled down and lead off with two strikeouts. Odo would give way to Tommy Hunter after a line drive single.
Overall, the line for Jake comes in at 6 2⁄3 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, and 8 K. Not bad, but not good enough for Best Rays Jake of the Week.
Todd Fraizer made things real interesting in the 8th, with a laser line drive shot off of Ryne Stanek and then off the foul pole. With the score 6-5 and only 1 out, Stanek gave up a double to Tim Anderson, who followed that up with a steal. Stanek got his grounder, and with the infield in, no further damage was done.
Kevin Cash was ready to ride this narrow lead to victory with the best arm in the stable, and called for Colome for the 4-out save. Right call, and good result.
Alex Colome got the pop-up to end the threat in the 8th. Colby Rasmus (who came on to replace Kevin Kiermaier, more on that later) gave the Rays a bit of breathing room with a towering, no-doubt HR. Colome nailed down the 9th with a swinging K of Jose Abreu to secure the Rays series win.
The Kiermaier Slide
The Rays won the game, and the series, but tonight wasn’t all good. With the Rays up 6-0 in the bottom of the 5th, and 2 on and 1-out, Kevin Kiermaier hit a soft chopper to 1st. This resulted in a bang bang play at the bag.
That slide looked awkward, and the pop up after looked even worse.
#rays Kiermaier said he slid to avoid collision with Abreu— Roger Mooney (@RogerMooney50) June 9, 2017
KK left the game with what was described as a “jammed hip”.