The 2018 Rays are a team that seems to be scuffling for every run and every win. The one run wins, the one run losses. If there is a heartbreaking way to lose a close game, we’ve seen it.
But every once in a while we see games like tonight’s, where everything clicks and the team wins what feels like a no doubter.
The Rays, those nontraditionalists, went through four pitchers and nearly all were very sharp. The Yankees, those traditionalists, went through four pitchers, two of which were not very sharp.
The Rays had men on base in seven out of the nine innings. Everyone in their line up except Joey Wendle got on base at least once, with a total of 11 hits and five walks.
The scoring started in the top of the second inning. Kevin Kiermaier, whose two for five can give us hope that he’s emerging from the hitting doldrums, led off with a solid opposite field double. Willy Adames then looked foolish on three straight sliders from Yankee right hander Luis Cessa, which makes me wonder whether our writing nice things about a player (we’ve got two articles about Adames “breaking out”) is a jinx.
Willy’s failure to deliver left it to thus far hitless Brandon Lowe, and he rose to the occasion: a corkscrew blooper to shallow left field fell in, and he’s got hit number one and an RBI as well to make it 1-0. Lowe has had some hard hit line drives caught so of course his first knock is a mishit flare.
Brandon Lowe's first career hit brings home Kevin Kiermaier and gives the Rays a 1-0 lead! pic.twitter.com/2rl93kbV9p— DRaysBay (@draysbay) August 15, 2018
That lead disappeared all too quickly, however; Miguel Andujar, ahead in the count 3-1, got a center cut fastball from Jacob Faria that he drove over the left-centerfield wall.
But that was the first and the last Yankee run to cross the plate. The Rays, however, were not done.
Mallex Smith and Matt Duffy singled to start the third, and moved up a base on a wild pitch. Jake Bauers walked on a full count to load the bases. Choi hit a grounder that fortunately was not quite hard enough to turn a double play, so a run scored on the force at second, Next, Kiermaier’s grounder got through the infield to score Matt Duffy, making the score 3-1. The rally ended when Willy Adames once again looked foolish against Cessa’s slider. Willy we promise we will never write about you again (Adameses did manage to draw two walks in subsequent at bats).
The Rays put more distance between themselves and the Yankees in the fourth inning. Michael Perez singled followed by a Mallex Smith home run to right that did not need any stinking short porch to get out. Smith was grinning all around the bases, which I hope does not violate any unwritten rules. That made the score 5-1 and ended Cessa’s night.
Another RBI single by Lowe in the fifth inning provided the final Rays run.
Meanwhile, Jacob Faria was on the mound to start the game, but still restricted to just a few innings as he works his way back from an extended disabled list stint. His final line was 3.1 innings, having given up one run on 3 hits. He walked two (both in his final fourth inning, when he seemed visibly frustrated), struck out two; he did a decent job generating weak contact, with four grounders and a few infield pop ups.
Faria was pulled in the fourth with two on, and Chaz Roe, recently reactivated from the disabled list, came in. Although he gave us all a bit of a scare by loading the bases with a hit batter, he was able to get the final two outs of the inning.
Ryan Yarbrough, who was awarded the win, pitched innings five through eight, scattering two hits without giving up a walk, and fielding his position well. I had to chuckle when I saw that Yarbrough now has a W-L record of 11-5. I thought the Rays system of using pitchers was going to kill pitchers in their arb years by robbing them of traditional stats?
Diego Castillo made things a little too interesting in the bottom of the ninth. He walked the lead off batter, Neil Walker, he of the wRC+ of 70, on four pitches. Two outs later he walked Brett Gardner on four pitches. After a mound visit, which included some words of wisdom from Kyle Snyder and some very animated words of encouragement from Willy Adames, he yanked a sinker and allowed the runners to advance to second and third on the wild pitch. He finally came into the strike zone to Giancarlo Stanton who lined a ball toward that right field short porch, but fortunately it was not quite deep enough and Smith was able to snag it with his back to the wall.
Final score, 6-1.
Some final reflections:
- I realize that Smith isn’t going to be smashing the ball at this level forever, but boy is it fun to see him get hot. Tonight he had a single, a double and a home run. He did get caught stealing, but it was one of those instances where replay showed a few centimeters of daylight between his hip and the third base bag.
- Those watching the broadcast learned that first base coach Ozzie Timmons does ten push ups for each run the Rays score.
- With Tommy Pham completing his rehab assignment, Brandon Lowe is probably most likely to lose his roster spot, at least until September call ups. That makes it even sweeter than he had two hits and two RBI today; could you imagine how it would feel to return to Durham have gone hitless? (Oops, it’s Faria who has been optioned for Pham! That was unexpected).
- Are there any fans who are faster to boo their own than Yankee fans?