Backed by a big day from Brandon Lowe, some great glove (and bat) work from Joey Wendle, and a solid showing from Ryan Yarbrough, the Rays racked up yet another series win, beating Cleveland 6-4 and improving to ten games over .500 at 73-63. With Oakland’s win over Seattle, the Rays sit seven back of Oakland and two behind Seattle in the loss column in the race for the final Wild Card slot.
Diego Castillo got his fourth opener chance and was solid once again. Throwing an easy 101 mph on the fastball and 92 on the slider, he cruised through the first.
Ji-Man Choi took care of the no-hitter in the first, lining a two-out single to right. While that mini-rally amounted to nothing, Brandon Lowe quickly took care of the shutout in the second inning, driving a first pitch fastball from Carasco the other way. The ball just kept carrying, finally landing beyond the high wall in left.
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Yandy Diaz broke up the no-hitter with a single to center leading off the second, and that was it for Castillo. 1 IP, 1 hit, 1 strikeout. Enter Ryan Yarbrough. Yarby K’d against lefty Yonder Alonso swinging and got switch hitter Melky Cabrera looking before getting lefty Jason Kipnis to line sharply up the middle, directly to Willy Adames.
Yarbrough was the victim of a tough zone in a walk to Perez starting the bottom of the third. But this just set things up for three consecutive great defensive plays. First, Greg Allen was robbed of a single to right on a driving stop by C.J. Cron, who forced Perez at second. The speedy Allen then tried to swipe second, and was nailed on a great throw by Adam Moore with an assist from Lowe’s strong tag.
Finally, Lindor hooked one up the third base line and was surely thinking extra bases. But Joey Wendle made a diving stop, then hopped up and made a strong throw to get Lindor. This would be foreshadowing of things to come.
The first pitch to C.J. Cron in the fourth was a hanging breaking ball. Cron did what you are supposed to do with hangers, and hit it a mile to left.
Still in the fourth, Willy Adames lined a one-out single to right, and Jake Bauers walked after a long at bat. But an overanxious Carlos Gomez struck out swinging, and an overmatched Adam Moore did the same to end the threat.
C.J. Cron roped a double to the right field corner leading off the sixth. Lowe lifted a fly to medium right, and Cron aggressively tagged and lumbered toward third. The strong and accurate throw from Ramirez got Cron easily, so it would be easy to criticize. But it was actually a good spot to challenge the right fielder there. Pushing the runner to third with less than two outs would have been big, and if the throw is off-line at all, Cron is safe. It wasn’t, so you just tip your cap. Especially with the lead, this is a good play. Or at the very least, not a bad play.
Willy Adames followed with a single to center, so forget everything I just said. Cron is a moron! #ResultsBasedAnalysis
Jake Bauers struck out end the sixth.
The bottom of the sixth was the Joey Wendle Show. First, a nice reaction play when Perez smoke a liner to his left that he snared. Next, the speedy Greg Allen hit a tapper toward Wendle. Wendle charged the ball, fielded it barehanded, and fired to first, beating Allen by half a step. Lastly, a second diving backhand stop and strong throw across the diamond to rob Lindor once again.
Ryan Yarbrough better be buying this man a steak dinner.
Carasco managed to walk Gomez leading off the seventh, and Moore bunted Gomez over, bring (guess who?) Joey Wendle to the plate. Wendle went down and got a 1-2 breaking ball, lifting a fly that carried all the way to the track in right center, where it landed and bounced high over the wall for an automatic double.
Tommy Pham followed with a triple over the head of Allen, pushing the Rays’ lead to 4-0. That spelled the end of the day for Carasco and brought on Neil Ramirez.
Ramirez walked Choi and Cron popped out, bringing up Brandon Lowe, who smashed the first pitch he saw from Ramirez off the wall in right center for a double. 6-0 Rays. Ramirez then walked Willy Adames, ending his day. Enter lefty Tyler Olson, who fanned Jake Bauers to mercifully end the Rays half.
Meanwhile, Ryan Yarbrough gave up his first hit and second base runner of the ballgame when Brantley doubled to right. Ramirez followed by putting a wicked slice on his forehand of a ball ticketed for C.J. Cron. The weird hop eluded Cron and kicked into right field for a single, scoring Brantley. 6-1 Rays.
That would be it for Yarby. 5+ innings, 2 hits, 1 ER, 3 Ks and a walk.
New pitcher Adam Kolarek got Yandy Diaz to fly to right on a ball that was entirely too entertaining, then coaxed a 4-6-3 double play grounder from Yonder Alonso.
Submariner Adam Cimber got the call for Cleveland in the eighth. After five foul balls, Gomez finally put one fair, chopping it to second. He was initallly called safe, but the call was overturned on replay. Adam Moore followed by doubling to the wall in left center. Next up, Joey Wendle (again?) slapped one the other way, putting runners at the corners for Pham. Pham tapped into a 3-6-1 double play to end the threat.
New arrival Andrew Velazquez made his major league debut as a defensive replacement in the bottom of the eighth, taking over center and moving Pham over to Bauers’ spot in left.
With one out, Kolarek made a nice, leaping play to grab a Jason Kipnis chopper back through the middle. Unfortunately, he quickly followed this “WooHoo!” with a “D’oh!” as his lob to first sailed over Cron’s head, allowing Kipnis coasted into second. Kolarek rebounded to strike out Eric Haase and get Greg Allen to fly to shallow right.
In the ninth, Brandon Lowe smacked another double. It’s safe to say his slump is over, yeah?
Hunter Wood worked the ninth and looked rusty. Lindor finally hit it to not-Joey-Wendle, singling to center to lead it off. He moved to second on a Brantley ground out to first, then scored following a Ramirez walk and a Yandy Diaz single. 6-2 Rays, exit Wood, enter Jose Alvarado.
Alvardo struck out Alonso looking for the second out, but then gave up a liner to Melky Cabrera than finally got past Wendle and into the corner. Ramirez and Diaz both scored, making it 6-4 game with Kipnis at the plate. With a 2-2 count, Cabrera stole third uncontested. Finally, Alvarado killed the rally with 98 mph heat that Kipnis swung through.
Winner, winner, chicken dinner!
- The Rays travel to Toronto and start a three game set tomorrow at 7PM.
- The Yankees travel to Oakland for 4PM (Eastern) start, while the Mariners host the Orioles in a 9PM (Eastern) start.
- Before the game, Michelle Margaux enlisted the help of Jake Bauers to try and even the score with Willy Adames for watercoolergate. It...didn’t go well.