Some games, the narrative writes itself. Other games, it doesn’t become apparent until later, maybe not until it’s over. And then some games, like today, the narrative is: there is no narrative. We just didn’t score as many runs as they did.
The lowly White Sox completed a sweep today, knocking off YOUR Tampa Bay Rays 8-7. The game swung back and forth all day. In the end, after a big late swing to the White Sox, the pendulum started back toward your Rays, but just didn’t have enough momentum to get there.
The Rays grabbed the lead early, scoring in the first thanks to some agressive play and good fortune. After a Mallex Smith single to center, Matt Duffy replaced him on the bases on a fielders choice. Jake Bauers then worked a long at bat, finally drawing a walk — with Duffy running — on a borderline 3-2 pitch. It was a big play on a couple levels. First, Duffman was likely out on a strike em out, throw em out if Shields gets the strike call. But the biggest reason Shields didn’t get the call is because the runner was going, meaning that Garneau couldn’t hang in to frame it. It was a great example how being aggressive can affect a game even if it doesn’t show up in the box score.
Of course, this only mattered because Joey Wendle followed that up by beating the shift (and why are you shifting Joey Wendle, White Sox?), slapping a 3-2 fastball through the open left side to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
.@RaysBaseball Joey Wendle makes the White Sox look silly on the shift and drives in the 1st run with a single opposite field. #RaysUp Catch all of the action on FOX Sports Sun. pic.twitter.com/IAcEM4D09Q— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) August 5, 2018
After (mostly) cruising through the first, Opener/Whitesnake tribute band frontman Hunter Wood ran into trouble in the second. He walked the lead off man, Avisail Garcia, then gave up a no-throw stolen base on a change up in the dirt. Garcia then moved to third on a groundout, and scored when Joey Wendle couldn’t come up with a Tim Anderson grounder up the middle. An Anderson steal and a walk to Garneau brought an end to Wood’s day. He went one and two-third, giving up two hits and two walks while striking out three. He had excellent movement, but of his 43 pitches, only 24 were strikes.
Ryan Yarbrough came on, and after walking Yoan Moncada to load the bases, got Yolmer Sanchez to pop out to end the inning.
In the third, Bauers accepted James Shields’ fourth walk of the day. Wendle followed by dropping a perfect bunt up the third base line. The play at first would have been very close, but Garneu’s throw glanced off Wendle’s ribs and into right field, allowing Bauers to score all the way from first and giving Joey a Little League triple. A long sac fly Ji-Man Choi pushed the lead to 3-1.
Walk. Bunt single. Error. Sac Fly.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 5, 2018
Doesn't need to be pretty. pic.twitter.com/HT2GgbutBg
Nicky Delmonico walked (of course) to lead off the White Sox fourth. He was sacrificed to second by Leury Garcia, and scored on a single to leftfield Brandon Lowe by Tim Anderson. Making his first big league start — and not here for glove or his arm — Lowe’s throw home was offline and late and not terribly strong. More costly than not getting Delmonico was that it allowed Tim Anderson to move up to second, where he would score himself on another single to left, this one by Garneau. Tie game.
With two outs in the fifth, Yarbrough was on his way to a clean frame for the first time all night. Working ahead of Avisail Garcia 1-2, he tried to put him away with a changeup down, and fooled him pretty badly. Unfortunately, Garcia stayed back just enough, and basically one-armed the swing for a homer into the second row in left. A double by Delmonico and a single by Leury Garcia made it 5-3.
In the bottom of the fifth, Wendle continued to have himself a day.
.@RaysBaseball Joey Wendle rips a frozen rope to right field. Rays only down by one to the White Sox. #RaysUp Don't miss a second of the action by tuning in to FOX Sports Sun. pic.twitter.com/mFJysng7gL— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) August 5, 2018
5-4 White Sox.
But Avisail Garcia got that back for the White Sox in the seventh, taking Yarbrough opposite field for the solo shot. 6-4 Chicago.
Old friend Xavier Cedeno took over for the White Sox in the bottom of the seventh, closing the book on James Shields. Big Game was charged with four runs (two earned) on five hits. He struck out six and walked four.
Mallex Smith greeted Cedeno with his third of four hits on the day, a single to right. Duffy followed by singling to center, but Smith rounded second too far and was hung out to dry with a good throw from Garcia. Fortunately for Mallex, the throw back in was wide, allowing Smith to scamper back in. Bauers then walked to load the bases.
Cash then pinch hit for the red hot Joey Wendle, thus thoroughly ticking me off. And it didn’t help when the White Sox countered pinch hitter C.J. Cron by going to righty Jeanmar Gomez, who made Cron look bad — with some help from home plate umpire Jerry Meals — during a four pitch strikeout. That’s why you don’t pinch hit for Joey, Kevin!
Weirdly, Chicago eschewed the matchup game for the next hitter, and Ji-Man Choi made them pay, singling to left and tying the game at six.
A day late and a batter short, Jace Fry entered the game to pitch to Kiermaier. KK promptly drew — what else? — a walk to re-load the bases for debutee Brandon Lowe, still looking for his first big league hit. Sadly, the storybook wouldn’t cooperate. After getting ahead 3-0, Lowe took a strike, fouled off another, then struck out swinging. Tyler Danish then became the fourth White Sox pitcher of the inning when he entered the game to face pinch hitter Carlos Gomez, who chopped to second to end the inning.
Diego Castillo took over in the eighth. Ryan Yarborough provided length even if he wasn’t terribly sharp, battling through five and a third and getting tagged for five runs on six hits. He struck out six and walked three.
Castillo was sharp, striking out the first two hitters. Then pinch hitter Omar Navarro gave one a ride into the left center field gap. Do you know who patrols out there?
Honestly, the best part was watching Jake Bauers watch helplessly, only to see KK run it down anyway.
In the ninth, Jose Abreu laced a two out single to left. Daniel Palka — 0 for 4 with 4 Ks today — followed by launching the first pitch way out to center. 8-6 Chicago.
C.J. Cron hammered a double off the top of the wall in right to lead off the Rays ninth. After a Choi groundout, Kiermaier took a Hector Santiago sinker up the third base line for a double, scoring Cron and bringing Lowe to the plate again with another shot to write the storybook ending. Instead, he drew a walk, taking a tough 3-2 pitch.
Jesus Sucre followed. He hit the 1-1 sinker off the end of the bat, breaking the bat and grounding to third for an easy around the horn double play
- No matter how much you enjoyed watching the game, Jake Bauers enjoyed watching it more, drawing three walks and two strikeouts looking in his five at bats. He saw 27 pitches, putting zero in play.
- This was the seventh (!) time the Rays have been swept. That seem like a lot for a .500 team!
- It’s a very good thing this game didn’t go extras, and Dewayne Staats’s voice was just about shot by the end. He toughed it out and got the complete game, but was really laboring by the end. Get well soon, Dewayne!
The Rays are off tomorrow. They take on the Orioles at the Trop on Tuesday evening at 7:10 PM, with Tyler Glasnow getting the start.