The Rays sent staff ace Bullpen Day to the hill to face off against former Cy Young winner and anchor of my ‘17 eighth place Ottoneu team, Rick Porcello. And for a while, things looked good!
Matt Andriese was the first arm Tampa Bay called on, and he looked solid, weaving his way through the front three and surrendering only a single to J.D. Martinez.
Meanwhile, Denard Span got the offense going in the top of the third. After an earlier single by Adeiny Hechavarria, Old Man Span took a Porcello change out to right center.
Opting for a more traditional home run today. pic.twitter.com/I22rL1YFSS— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 29, 2018
And to that doofus fan: Man, if you’re gonna come flying in and try to steal somebody else’s homerun ball, you best make the catch. That’s all I’m saying.
The Rays tacked on another run in the fourth with some aggressive baserunning. Brad Miller lined a one-out double to center, then scored after Mallex Smith hooked a change up away softly into right. The two-out send by Matt Quatraro was surprising considering some of his more conservative calls earlier this year. A good throw from Bradley had an excellent chance to get Miller, but with the throw well up the line, Miller scored easily.
Andriese ran into a little trouble in the bottom of the fourth as the lineup turned over. First, Andrew Benintendi smoked liner. But nobody gets it by Joey Wendle.
No fly zone. pic.twitter.com/EDpZ1Ehjkx— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 29, 2018
Okay, so he didn’t stick the landing. Big deal. Still a great catch.
Unfortunately, Andriese followed the Wendlegem by hitting Hanley Ramirez on a full count (resulting in a weird stare-down and the slowest trot to first you’ll ever see), and giving up another single to Martinez. With three lefties due up, that was enough for Cash to call on Jonny Venters.
Venters did the job, getting Moreland to fly to center and Devers to pop to second. Even more important for future situations, Cash allowed Venters to go back out the next inning, where he retired Jackie Bradley Jr. on a groundout to Wendle.
Things came apart for Bullpen Day in the sixth, thanks to a back hop, back luck, and bad location. Andrew Kittridge was the victim. After getting ahead of leadoff hitter Eduardo Nunez 0-2, Kittridge seemed to lose the zone. The end result was a bad hop single to third. A walk on four pitches to Benintendi was next, followed by back-to-back ground ball singles in the hole. The Red Sox cut the Rays lead to 3-2. Kittridge then walked Moreland to load the bases for the second time in the inning, still with no outs, and finally Cash had seen enough. He called on Romo.
Sergio Romo was ... fortunate. He froze Devers on a 80 mph change up that was middle-up for the first out of the inning. It was a ball that probably should have traveled 420 feet. He then got JBJ to hit a sac fly to right, hit Sandy Leon with a pitch to re-reload the bases, and retired Tzu Wei-Lin on a fly to right. 3-3 game, but whew!
In the top of the eighth, the Rays got another rally going. With two out, C.J. Cron singled to left. In a surprising move, Cora called on Kimbrel in the eighth of a tie game.
But we had Joey Wendle. And really, who would rather have in this situation than Joey Wendle?
1) Barry Bonds.
2) Prime Ruth.
3) Joey Wendle
These are known facts.
On the sixth pitch of the at bat, Wendle lifted a 96 mph fastball the other way. It was a ball that looked like it perhaps snuck up on J.D. Martinez, and carried over his head to the wall for a double. Unfortunately, the wall being approximately only 6.9 feet from the infield, Cron was not able score from first. This left it in the hands of Brad Miller.
Craig Kimbrel did Craig Kimbrel things to Brad Miller. End of threat.
Alex Colome came on to work the eighth for the Rays. He looked better than his line.
Martinez led off with a — I feel like I’ve said this before — a single to right. But Colome came back to strike out Moreland on a nasty cutter, and retired Devers thanks to a great play at the monster by Span.
Denard Span had a big game for @RaysBaseball, including this catch up against the Green Monster in the loss to the Red Sox. #RaysUp #MLB pic.twitter.com/qC6Fhw8ynM— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) April 29, 2018
Unfortunately, Colome couldn’t nail it down. He gave up a bad five-pitch walk to Bradley that pushed Martinez up to second, then made a good pitch to Leon that the catcher fought off and shot just inside the third base line. The ball then caromed off the stands and into no man’s land, allowing Martinez to score the go-ahead run easily.
The Rays still weren’t done though. Singles by Daniel Robertson and Mallex Smith started the ninth, and an ugly but effective sacrifice bunt by Hech put both runners in scoring position for Jesus Sucre.
Sucre took a good pass at a low and away fastball, fouling off strike one, then got a great pitch to hit on 1-1 that he fouled straight back. The visibly frustrated catcher was clearly looking for the hammer on 1-2, but guessed wrong, flailing late at 97.
For the Rays final chance, Cash sent up Carlos Gomez to pinch hit for Johnny Field.
Craig Kimbrel did Craig Kimbrel things to him on three pitches.
The Rays travel to Detroit and hope to start another win streak tomorrow night at 7:10 PM.