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Rays 9, Rangers 3: The bats stayed hot on a steamy Texas day

Pham homered twice, Wendle got three hits, and the pitching got the job done

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Texas Rangers Shanna Lockwood-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays needed to sweep the Rangers to keep their postseason hopes alive. Fighting the scorching Texas heat, the hitters and pitchers got the job done.

Opening things up

Starting the game on the mound for the Texas Rangers was young lefty Yohander Mendez. MLB Pipeline ranks Mendez as the Rangers’ 17th prospect. Mendez’ day started with a pop out of Mallex Smith before allowing a single to Tommy Pham. With Matt Duffy in the box, Mendez threw over to first base four times. On the fourth throw, Pham was picked off of first base. Duffy struck out to end the inning.

Diego Castillo kicked off today’s game for the Rays in his ninth start as an opener. Castillo struck out Rougned Odor after getting Shin-Soo Choo to fly out, and ended the inning with a tag on Elvis Andrus, who decided to stay in the box after making contact with a cutter from Castillo.

In the second, the Rays pounced on a shaky inning from Mendez. CJ Cron led off with a walk and moved up to third base after Joey Wendle hit a double. Jake Bauers, who is definitely not in a slump anymore, lined a ball over the head of right fielder Nomar Mazara, driving home two runs.

Bauers advanced to third after a terrible pickoff attempt from Mendez ended up in center field. Willy Adames drove home his buddy Bauers with an infield single, increasing the Rays lead to 3-0, but the inning ended with Adames left at first.

Diego Castillo stayed in the game to work the home half of the second, striking out Mazara on 100mph heat to start the inning.

Following a double from Adrian Beltre and a fly out from Jurickson Profar, Kevin Cash summoned Ryan Yarbrough with two outs in the inning. Yarbrough recorded the inning-ending out on just one ground ball-inducing pitch, stranding Beltre at second.

Tommy Pham interrupted Sun reporter Michelle Margaux’s inning-opening report by swinging at the first pitch, gifting a lucky Rangers fan in the right field seats a free baseball. The lead grew to 4-0, but Mendez worked through the mistake pitch by throwing only eight pitches to get out of the top of the third.

Ryan Yarbrough struck out Carlos Perez to begin the bottom of the third. Yarbrough bent but didn’t break in the inning, allowing back-to-back singles. Following a strikeout of Rougned Odor, a single by Elvis Andrus plated the first Rangers run in the entire series. Fortunately, Yarbrough worked out of the jam and got the third out on Nomar Mazara.

Fantastic fourth inning

The fourth inning got off to a great start when Willy Adames turned a ten-pitch at-bat into a walk. Willy followed Jake Bauers, who had flown out to lead off the inning. Jesus Sucre moved Adames up to third with a single to left field. Sucre moved up to second and Adames scored when Mallex Smith belted a single to Mazara in right field.

With a 5-1 lead, the Rays made sure not to let off the petal, as Matt Duffy hit a double to center field, bringing home both Sucre and Smith. That double by Duffy would spell the end of the day for rookie starter Yohander Mendez, and Mendez would make way for Jeffrey Springs to face CJ Cron.

CJ Cron welcomed Springs to the game with a triple, Cron’s first on the season, and plated Matt Duffy to give the Rays an 8-1 lead. Joey Wendle walked in the following at bat, but Carlos Gomez, the ninth batter in the inning, grounded into the inning-ending out.

The Texas Rangers wanted in on the run-scoring fun, as leadoff hitter Adrian Beltre returned a Ryan Yarbrough changeup into the left field seats. Thankfully, Beltre’s home run would be the only run that Yarbrough would allow in the bottom of the fourth.

Moving on through the middle innings

For both teams, both halves of the fifth inning were not offensive performances to be remembered. Willy Adames and Mallex Smith both struck out, and for the Rangers, Carlos Tocci and Shin-Soo Choo struck out. Conversely, both Ryan Yarbrough and Jeffrey Springs recorded two strikeouts, to the delight of both teams’ pitching coaches.

The Rays offense stayed quiet in the top of the sixth. In the bottom of the sixth, Nick Ciuffo replaced Jesus Sucre behind the plate. Nomar Mazara drove a leadoff double to Tommy Pham in left, advancing to third when Adrian Beltre flew out. Yarbrough struck out Jurickson Profar but walked Ronald Guzman, ending his outing against the Rangers.

Andrew Kittredge was summoned from the bullpen. With the righty Carlos Perez due up, Jeff Banister played the matchup game, replacing Perez with left-handed pinch-hitter Willie Calhoun. Calhoun roped the first pitch from Kittredge into right field, scoring Nomar Mazara but getting thrown out at second by Carlos Gomez.

C.D. Pelham entered the game in the top of the seventh. Carlos Gomez struck out for the first out in the inning, but Joey Wendle got a base hit, making him now 3 for 3 in the game.

Wendle stole his 14th base on the season with Jake Bauers in the box, and advanced from second to third after Bauers grounded out. Willy Adames was granted first base via an intentional walk but both runners were stranded when Nick Ciuffo grounded out to end the inning.

Starting pitchers pitching late

Clean-shaven Jake Faria was called upon to pitch for the Rays in the home half of the seventh.

A leadoff walk was the only mistake that Faria made in the seventh, as he struck out Shin-Soo Choo in the next at bat. Then, to make up for the mistake of the leadoff walk, Faria got Rougned Odor to ground into an inning-ending double play.

Bartolo Colon was the pitcher of choice for the Rangers in the top of the eighth. With one out in the inning, exit velocity-extraordinaire Tommy Pham crushed a 79mph changeup from Colon, returning it at 107mph and driving it 430 feet for Pham’s second home run on the day.

With a 9-3 lead, the Rays offense showed no signs of slowing down. Matt Duffy singled following the home run and CJ Cron walked. Joey Wendle, however, grounded into an inning-ending double play.

Jake Faria returned to the mound for the bottom of the eighth inning, only needing one pitch to record the first out. Looking much better today than in previous outings, Faria struck out Mazara looking, and then got Adrian Beltre to fly out to end the inning.

Bartolo Colon only pitched to Carlos Gomez, getting Gomez to fly out. Chris Martin—not the one from Coldplay—entered the game in relief of Colon. Martin allowed a double to Jake Bauers and Willy Adames made it to first base on an errant throw from Profar, but neither baserunner scored as Nick Ciuffo grounded into a double play to end the inning.

Andrew Velazquez replaced Tommy Pham in left field and Jake Faria was lifted for lefty Vidal Nuno in the bottom of the ninth. Nuno made quick work of Ronald Guzman and Jurickson Profar, quickly striking both of them out. On the final pitch of the game, Vidal Nuno got Robinson Chirinos to ground out to secure Tampa Bay’s 85th win on the season, beating the Texas Rangers 9-3.

The Rays could not afford to come into Texas and lose a game, and lose a game they did not. The pitching allowed only three runs all series long and those runs came today.

As of the writing of this recap, the Rays are now only five games behind Oakland for the second wild card spot. Tampa Bay travels north of the border to Toronto to face the Blue Jays tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled for 7pm.