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Rays 2, Marlins 3: Tampa Bay racks up yards but not enough points

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Joey Wendle and Ji-Man Choi hit two of the most impressive homers you’ll ever see at the Trop. It was not enough.

MLB: Miami Marlins at Tampa Bay Rays Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays lost another one-run game. Weird. How often does that happen? On the plus side, we hit two dingers. On the down side, we needed a little more, as the hometown nine came up short, 3-2.

Opener Ryne Stanek wriggled out of trouble in a 25 pitch first after allowing two of the first three hitters to reach (on a walk and a single) to put runners at the corners. He rebounded to Justin Bour, getting ahead 0-2 on nice splitter. Bour popped out on the next pitch. A long at bat to Castro followed, with Stanek finally getting the swinging K on the seventh pitch of the at bat on another sweet splitter. But the high pitch count meant an early exit for Stanek, as Ryan Yarbrough came out to start the second.

Yarby was much more economical, throwing 69 pitches (nice), 45 for strikes, over four innings of work. He moved the ball around in typical Yarby fashion: up and down, in and out, (sort of) fast and less fast, bendy and less bendy. He gave up two hits, walked two and struck out three.

The only real trouble he ran into was in the fourth. After walking Bour and watching Starlin Castro beat the shift for a single, Martin Prado then doubled over Bauers head in left. Bour scored to give the Marlins a 1-0 lead. Bauers maybe had a play at second on Prado, but the throw into second went to ... well, nobody. As in, nobody appeared to be covering second on a double. Which is not optimal. The ball rolled slowly across the infield, and eventually was fielded by Cron. I honestly have no idea why the Castro didn’t score and Prado move up to third.

After a pop out by Riddle, Castro scored on a ground out to Wendle at second, moving Prado to third. But a strikeout by Cameron Maybin ended the threat, making Yarbrough very lucky to only get tagged with two runs.

The Rays went in order in the first, second, and third, including four strikeouts against [checks notes] Pablo Lopez? Nothing left the infield. Yeah, okay.

Leading off the Ray’s half of the fourth, Joey Wendle finally got one out of the infield, in the process taking care of the perfect game, the no-hitter and the shutout, all at the same time.

2-1 Marlins

Carlos Gomez was plunked and stole second in the fifth. With one outs, Adeiny Hechavarria smoked a grounder to deep short that J.T. Riddle made a great play to knock down and keep in the infield. In the process, he got Gomez caught in a pickle between second and third. Gomez did manage to extend to the play until Hech could move up to second before being tagged out. But Sucre was unable to cash in the chance, popping out to shallow right.

Hunter Wood was the next man up in the sixth and seventh. He struck out the first two men he face and the last two men he faced. His hesitation move seemed to baffle Dave Willis — who was filling in for DeWayne Staats — as well as the Marlins.

The hitters between those four Ks were a problem though: two singles in the sixth, and a homer and a walk in the seventh. Thankfully, the sequencing was good, and he left with the game at a 3-1 deficit.

With one out in the bottom of the sixth, Daniel Robertson skipped a double up the third base line and past Miguel Rojas. Following that, and in the middle of a “get off my lawn rant what are they doing to the game” rant by Dave, Jake Bauers drilled a 1985 single to center. Unfortunately, this is 2018, and Riddle fielded it easily. Cron popped out to end the threat.

Adam Conley relieved Lopez in the bottom of the seventh, and the Rays got a short rally going. A second HBP by Gomez and a single by Mallex Smith put two on for the newest Ray, Justin Williams, pinch hitting for Hech, who was pulled for “oblique soreness” rather than any faith in the rookie catching Dan Johnson in a bottle. It was a tough ask for JWill in his major league debut, putting him in cold against a tough lefty-on-lefty matchup. The end result was a 6-4-3 double play.

Because of the short bench, the Rays defense behind Jose Alvarado in the eighth was unusual, with Robertson moving to short, Wendle to third, Justin Williams staying in the game and taking over in right...and Carlos Gomez moving in to second. After an Alvarado K and the first putout of Williams career (a lazy fly that he tracked easily)...

...Mallex Smith made a nice diving catch on a sinking liner by Riddle.

With Drew Steckenrider in to pitch for the Marlins, Wendle line a high fastball into right for a one out single to start yet another rally in the bottom of the frame. On a full count, DRob chopped to short, but the Rays avoided a double play by starting Wendle on the pitch. A long at bat to Bauers followed, the conclusion of which was a strikeout looking on a fastball in that Jake was correct about and Jeff Nelson was not. Le sigh.

Sergio Romo worked the ninth, giving up a lead off single to Rojas but nothing more. Gomez still didn’t get to field a grounder.

Kyle Barraclough came on to finish it for the Marlins. After a long about a K swinging to Cron, Ji-Man Choi hit one onto the rooftop in center.

Unfortunately, long taters don’t count for more than RBI ground outs. Barraclough put on his big boy pants and came back to strike out Gomez and get Smith to pop to left, denying us the opportunity of seeing a Justin Williams walk off.

NOTES:

  • Forget “scrappy,” Joey Wendle is 17 for his last 41 and is smacking the ball hard again. That’s what we like.
  • They say that Ji-Man Choi’s dinger went 460 feet, but I’d add another nine feet because it was nice.
  • After the game, Cash said Hechavarria was day-to-day. Due to the already short handed nature of the club right now, especially on the infield, another move is likely. Willy? Arroyo? We’ll see.

The Rays will get ‘em tomorrow at 1:10 when Chris Archer takes on Trevor Richards.