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Rays 6, Cubs 5: Rays bend but don’t break

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A big fourth inning fuels the fire.

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago Cubs Caylor Arnold-USA TODAY Sports

The bulk of the Rays’ offense came in the fourth inning, thanks to some run scoring that just wouldn’t quit. In the third inning, an error on a stolen base attempt but Souza Jr. on third base, and he was driven in by a sac fly. In the fourth, it would take seven batters for the Rays to record their first out, but by then the offense had already scored five runs, all the runs they would score that inning. Trevor Plouffe led off with a single, and was quickly drive in by a first-pitch homer by Tim Beckham. Adeiny Hechavarria then took advantage of a poor fielding Jon Lester, reaching base on a single. Bourjos walked to put Chris Archer to the plate.

Archer faked as if he were going to bunt, but pulled back and smacked a single past the second baseman to score Hech from second base. Archer then moved to second on the throw, fulfilling what certainly must have been a lifelong dream for him. Souza then smacked the two men on base home with a double for the fourth and fifth runs of the inning. The score was now 6-1.

Luckily, this would be all the runs the Rays would need, as Cubs pitching held them hitless for the rest of the game. The first halfiest first half team in baseball continues its first halfy ways.

Archer managed to settle down after allowing a triple and a run in the second, and pitched a pretty fine game, considering he seemed on the brink of giving it away in the fifth inning when the Cubs made a serious push to close a five-run gap, all with two outs. With the tying runner at the plate, Archer struck out Ian Happ on three pitches to end a further threat, but the Cubs still scored a pair via the meat of their order. After putting the first two men on in the sixth, Archer reached deep and struck out three straight Cubs to end the inning and his outing. He went six innings and allowed eight hits and three walks, collecting eight strikeouts and leaving the game with a 6-3 lead.

Brad Boxberger and Tommy Hunter too performed very well. Boxberger carefully pitched around Kris Bryant, walking him on eight pitches but collected a useful double play to stave off any further damage. Hunter allowed a line drive hit but a nice outfield assist by Peter Bourjos in center field erased the runner.

In the ninth, Alex Colome bent and nearly broke. I mean he really, really bent. Like one of those inflatable wiggly dudes in front of car dealerships. That kind of bent. Nothing was particularly hard hit, but Colome had trouble commanding the zone, walking Jon Jay and Ian Happ (the latter was down to his final strike). The Cubs struck back for two more runs and but the tying run in scoring position, but a Jason Heyward flyout put the game on ice. Colome collected the “save” and Archer the win, and the Rays win the first game of the short two-game series against the Maddons Cubs.

Blake Snell starts tomorrow, and it’s important to note that he is still winless this season. Maybe a start at Wrigley Field will do it for him?