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Rays 3, Toronto 1: Pitching, defense, and timely hits

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Kevin Cash makes all the right moves in a total team victory

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Toronto Blue Jays Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays won their 60th game of the season, pushing their record to three games over .500. It’s August 11th. Before the season, I had them winning between 55-59 on the season.

I love being wrong.

It was a combination of quality pitching, especially from Diego Castillo and Jose Alvarado, and just enough timely hitting from Willy Adames, Joey Wendle, and [checks notes] Jesus Sucre? Wait, that can’t be right. Let’s go to the tape.


Mallex Smith got things started an infield double. No, really.

After Duffy moved Smith over to third on the groundout, Joey Wendle drove him in with a double up the right field line.

The Rays scored again in the second. Kevin Kiermaier singled to center and advanced to second on a bobble by Kevin Pillar.

KK then swiped third and scored on a Willy Adames groundout. 2-0 Rays!

Meanwhile, on the mound

After cruising through an easy first, opener Ryne Stanek ran into trouble in the second, giving up a double to Teoscar Hernandez and a walk to Kendrys Morales. He bounced back to strike out Yangevis Solarte/Richard Urena (Solate was injured during the at bat and was replaced with a full count) before getting the hook in favor of Diego Castillo.

After Castillo hit Russell Martin with a sinker that appeared to slip out of his hand, Castillo and Aledmys Diaz engaged in an entertaining game of “can you lay off this slider or nah?” Castillo threw nothing but the bendy things the entire at bat, with the count eventually ended up full before Diaz fouled out to Sucre on slider number six. Castillo then got Pillar to ground out to end the inning.

Castillo worked two additional, less stressful innings, leaving with two and two-thirds, giving up a hit and a walk with two strike outs. He was also the beneficiary of some nice defense behind him. He would end up with the win.

Jamie Schultz came on in the fifth, and there was no defense to help him against where the first batter he faced hit it, as Aledmys Diaz knocked it out to left. 2-1 Rays.

He settled down some after that, but never really looked comfortable. His line was two innings, two hits, one run, one walk, and one strikeout. He was also the beneficiary of a double play behind him.

Stagnant offense

After the early pressure, the Rays were sat down pretty handily by Toronto starter Sam Gaviglio and reliever Jaime Garcia, with only one runner reaching scoring position (Ji-Man Choi on a double).

The Rays did manage to push a runner to second base in the seventh against Jake Petricka, when Willy Adames reached on an infield single and stole second, and again in the eighth against Tyler Clippard when C.J. Cron doubled. But both rallies fizzled harmlessly, leaving it up to the pen to protect this one.

Hunting Blue Jays

Hunter Wood pitched the seventh, and Russell Martin greeted him with a single, but the Rays erased him on an ill-conceived stolen base attempt.

Wood also walked Kevin Pillar, then promptly picked him off first.

Two outs on the bases in a one run game in the seventh inning! Ouch!

Jose Alvarado needed no such assistance in the eighth, striking out two and getting Devon Travis on an routine fly to Carlos Gomez that was waaaaay to entertaining for the big man’s taste.

Whew!
GIF by Dominik Vega

Finishing touches

The Rays finally got some breathing room in the ninth. Adames led off with a single to center and advanced to second on a Jake Bauers ground out. He then scored when Jesus Sucre (oh, there it is!) soft-served one in front of Kevin Pillar. It was a brilliant read by the young shortstop.

Sergio Romo worked an uneventful ninth for his 15th save.

Notes:

  • Toronto started closing the roof about halfway through the game due to some possible weather issues. The roof closing process takes about 20 minutes, and can’t be completed between innings. So the roof was being closed during play. This (maybe) led to some entertaining routes by outfielders. Also, for some reason, they seemed to change their minds halfway through, and ended up not closing it anyway. It was weird.
  • Brandon Lowe again put some good swings on the ball, including a liner smoked to Smoak. Does Stephen Vogt have the champagne ready?
  • This is good Twitter.
  • Not related to our game today, but is there any doubt this is Bryce Harper? Maybe Trevor Bauer...

Tomorrow Tyler Glasnow get the nod as the Rays go for the sweep at 1:07 PM.