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Rays 8, Rangers 4: Baby steps

When the Rays drew up their plan for this season, I think they were hoping for a lot of games like this

MLB: Texas Rangers at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays continued their rather impressive pattern of scoring first, by scoring first in the first inning. Of course, this being the 2018 Tampa Bay Rays, even this auspicious start couldn’t come with a little inauspicion (probably not a word, but then again I’m not a real writer). After opening the Rays’ half of the inning with a single, Matt Duffy was making his trip around the bases by stealing second when he slid a little awkwardly to the bag. Heading to third on a single by C.J. Cron, Duffy wasn’t able to successfully round third, and eventually left the game with what the Rays described as “hamstring tightness.” It is very fortunate that this didn’t become a heel thing, as eagle-brained readers surely remember that Duffy missed approx. 527 games last year with a heel issue. That was the worst heel turn the Rays had seen since Vince Namoli.

Anyway the Rays eventually brought a pinch-running Joey Wendle home by a Wilson Ramos single. But it wasn’t until the next inning when the Rays seemingly broke the game open. Thanks to a bases-loaded, nobody out situation from a suddenly wild Martin Perez, the Rays finally cashed in on some baserunners thanks to a little error on Jurickson Profar. He airmailed a throw past the first baseman—scoring two—and hurt his head in the process. I looked kind of rough, and head injuries are no joke, so here’s hoping he’s okay. A couple more bases hits juiced the bases and brought home two more runs to round out the scoring for the second inning.

The hits just kept coming with a Mallex Smith double, who is truly beginning to rake. Hechavarria brought him home with a ball that the new shortshop Drew Robinson also misplayed. If you’re counting, that’s three runs that the Rangers gifted the Rays. The other ones, however, were anything but.

It’s pretty nice to see some solid opposite field power from Daniel Robertson, even if it did just clear the right field fence. I will take it any day of the week and twice on Sundays. 8-1 Rays.

Blake Snell, in contrast with the struggling Martin Perez, pitched beautifully. After running into some trouble in the first inning, Snell struck out the heart of the Texas order, and promptly proceeded to pitch a real quality game into the seventh. The big blemish on his start was a solo homer by the all-or-nothing poster boy Joey Gallo, who has 6 home runs on the year! Gallo also was the last person Snell faced tonight, and he retired him on a full count. Snell was relieved by the recently called up Chih-Wei Hu, and frankly I’m looking forward to seeing a little more of him this year. Remember when we traded Kevin Jepsen for Hu a few years ago? Back when the Rays made good trades? I miss those days. Anyways Snell left after 6.1 innings, with nine K’s and no walks to his name. Dude is gonna be a stud this year if his arm stays screwed on.

Hu allowed a three-run home run in the eighth, but it’s okay, honestly. If this was a closer game, we would have seen a guy like Alvarado, or Colome. These are the two shut-down relievers for the eighth and ninth innings, guys who can continue the Rays pattern of bullpen excellence we’ve seen from studs like Rafael Soriano, Grant Balfour, Joaquin Benoit, Joel Peralta, and Fernando Rodney.

(cries silently in the corner)

Hu pitched well for the final inning, and closed out the game without a hitch. The Rays wrapped this one up without the benefits of extra innings for the first win since the Clinton administration. Tomorrow the Rays look to capture the elusive winning streak in the wild with a homemade dart gun. Join us for the comedy of errors