Dammit, dammit, dammit.
This is why we can’t have nice things.
The night started so promising, with Sergio Romo nailing the lineup card recitation, hamming it up with the nicknames, then stopping sadly at the plainness of “Dickerson.” (FORESHADOWING: This would not be the last time tonight we shook our heads sadly in Corey’s direction.) But with nicknames everywhere, and Longo swinging that sweet blue bat, and the Rays rocking those garish yellow starburst caps that are visible from space, everything was new and fresh and beautiful.
And then it wasn’t.
This one was right there. I had my “Rays win and scratch back to (almost) .500 tonight! We closed to within two games of a playoff spot in that wacky wild card race!” half written. It was that kind of night, where everything was going according to script. Blake Snell “Zilla” dominated the Cardinals, and was clearly on his way to third straight win, for those of you who care about those sort of things. The dingers were back for the offense. Everything was clicking. And even when it didn’t click, the team recovered nicely. I mean, Hech even went downtown!
And then it all got away.
The Early Lead
First, the good stuff.
With two-outs in the first, Evan Longoria singled through the right side of the infield to start a rally. “The Dude” Lucas Duda followed, and quickly killed that rally by driving a 1-1 Mike “Sparky” Leake sinker over the center field wall.
In the fourth, “Corey” Corey Dickerson “Dickerson” sent Sparky’s first pitch change up waaaay downtown to put the good guys up 3-0.
Meanwhile, Blake Snell “Zilla” was carving through the Cards lineup. Through five innings, Snell had given up no runs on just two hits and a walk. More importantly, his pitch count through those five was under 60.
He did get some help from his friends, like on this Souzbot snag on a flag route in the second.
That Souzbot is out there. It can't be reasoned with, it can't be bargained with...and it absolutely will not stop. Ever. pic.twitter.com/Fj8uSFkdXG— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 26, 2017
Snell Grows Up
Things went sideways for Snell in the sixth, though not all of it was his fault. After Tommy Pham drew a one-out walk, Paul Dejong sliced one into the left field corner. And Corey Dickerson ... well, bless his heart. It wasn’t a good night in the field for Corey. He already had one misplay in the corner for an error under his belt. Though Dejong’s ball would not go as a second error, it was still butchered. He played it far too aggressively into corner, then allowed the ball to skip past him back into leftfield, scoring Pham as Dejong coasted into third for a triple.
Blake Snell did what good pitchers do, and he picked up his fielders with a big strikeout of Randal Grichuk. He then got Yadier Molina to fly out softly to left, and all was forgiven.
Well, it would have been forgiven, if Dickerson had ever seen the ball. But it was clear from the outset that Corey had no idea where the ball was and had lost it in the twilight. Kevin Kiermaier made a heroic effort to Kelly Leak it all the way from deep center, but his dive came up just short. 3-2 Rays, with a runner on second.
Snell followed by walking Jedd Gyorko on five pitches, and you could see it all getting away from him in his frustration.
But tonight, Blake Snell grew up a little.
Zilla put on his big boy pants and retired Stephen Piscotty on a grounder to short to end the frame. He even came back out from that 40 pitch sixth to work the bottom of the seventh, where he struck out the side. He was really good, guys! In his second straight seven inning performance, Snell was charged with just the two runs on four hits, notching seven strikeouts and walking three. He seemed to stay away from the big hook, relying heavily on his heater and a lethal change up, and also mixed in several good sliders.
Oh, and in the top of the seventh, Adieny Hechavarria took an 0-2 Mike Leake slider out to left on a no-doubter, and that’s not a typo.
4-2 Rays, and we were totally winning this one!
Tommy Two Towels Hunter came on to pitch the eighth. In case you haven’t been paying attention, Two Towels has been struggling a little bit lately. So it was nice to see him rebound from walking the leadoff guy to record a strike out and a fly out. It was gonna be okay.
But then it wasn’t. Not that any of the hits were scorched. It’s just that all the bleeders leaked through the infield.
Let me just pull this band aid off real quick. (Is that an awkward metaphor?)
Wild pitch, single, run scores.
Single, single, bases loaded.
Brad Boxberger on, single, run scores. And really, two runs probably would have if Gyorko hadn’t pulled something coming into third.
Finally, a fly out to Dickerson ended the inning. But the wind was gone from our sails.
After the Rays went quietly in their half of the ninth, Cash sent Boxberger back out. Boxy gave up an infield single, then the walkoff dinger to Tommy Pham.
- Dickerson’s homer was a 25th of the season, a career high.
- Sad Trombone Trivia
@RaysBaseball have only lost 3 games in St Louis in franchise history— Adam Sanford (@Adam_A_Sanford) August 27, 2017
All three losses have been of the walkoff variety
- In case you were wondering about the bullpen usage:
Definite sense in #Rays clubhouse they let one get away. Cash said Cishek and Romo were unavailable tonight.— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) August 27, 2017
- Tomorrow the Rays go for a series win at 2:15 local time on Fox Sports Sun.