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Rays 1 Marlins 0: More injuries than runs for the Rays, but it’s still a win

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Citrus Series game two is a close one

Tampa Bay Rays v Miami Marlins Photo by Eric Espada/Getty Images

The Marlins may have the worst record in baseball, but they certainly proved difficult to beat tonight. The Rays did emerge victorious, but Marlins pitchers managed to hold their offense to a meek whimper.

The Rays had a first inning threat against the Marlins José Ureña. Ji -Man Choi reached on a hard ground ball that slipped through the infield, and Brandon Lowe finally got a hit after several games of utter futility. Yandy Diaz hit a patented hard grounder deep to third but was thrown out to end the inning.

Ryne Stanek opened for the Rays, and he started a little inauspiciously by walking Curtis Granderson (it was interesting to see how the defense was positioned against Granderson — shift to the right with a four man outfield). Brian Anderson hit a tailor made double play ball to Adames, but Willy badly bobbled it. He was a bit lucky the bobbled ball was deflected toward second base, where Brandon Lowe collected it to force Granderson. There are no errors given for double plays that should have been, but that, Willy, was an error. Stanek quickly become reacquainted with the strike zone, fortunately, striking out Neil Walker to end the inning.

Our friends at Fish Stripes have a sense of humor:

The Rays did manage to get on the board in the second, and if you didn’t watch the game I’ll be you won’t guess how they scored.

Willy Adames walked and was driven home by Anthony Bemboom, with his first major league hit, an RBI double with a 103 mph exit velocity. Rays Up 1-0.

For the next few innings the Rays and Marlins traded zeroes, although not without threats, as both teams scattered hits and stranded runners. Jalen Beeks came on for the Rays following Stanek and he pitched effectively. He gave up four hits over his three innings but walked none and struck out four. But he was pulled in favor of a pinch hitter in the fifth inning, and in fact could be seen thereafter throwing in the bullpen to remain stretched out for longer outings to come. Apparently Cash thought it was more important to get some added offense via pinch hitter Heredia than to have more innings covered.

Beeks was replaced by Adam Kolarek, who gave way to Emilio Pagan to get the last out of the fifth inning. Pagan made things a little too interesting, He gave up a walk and a single and Miami had a two out threat that was ended on a nifty ground ball play by Brandon Lowe.

Pagan made things REALLY interesting in the sixth inning He walked the leadoff batter, who went to third on a double. The broadcast team had noted that Pagan was not sharp, and in particular had trouble with his slider, and now he had to be really good with the tying and go ahead runs in scoring position with no outs. That one run lead looked very vulnerable. Pagan had a tense seven pitch at bat to strike out Jon Berti, got an infield pop up from Rossell Herrera, and then needed to get a third out from Martín Prado. He was up 0-2 and Prado fouled of the next two pitches. Then Pagan dropped a borderline slider on the outside corner. Very borderline but it was called a strike and we’ll take it.

The Rays half of the seventh was one of the stranger innings of baseball I’ve had the chance to recap. The Marlins put in a relief pitcher, but he was a righty, like their starter. So why did Cash replace the left handed hitting Bemboom with the right handed d’Arnaud, who promptly struck out? And then, why was Emilio Pagan, who had to be very close to his pitch limit, batting in a game where the Rays badly needed offense? That was a head-scratching decision. Especially since Cash was quick to pull Beeks, who was pitching effectively, for a pinch hitter earlier in the game. Pagan, of course, struck out.

Austin Meadows was next up, and with two outs he walked; Pham singled to put runners on the corners. The Marlins went to their bullpen for a lefty, to face Choi, whose splits against lefties are pretty bad. But it didn’t matter because Meadows was thrown out trying to steal home. It looked like a double steal attempt, where the Marlins catcher first threw to the second baseman who then quick threw back to home to catch Meadows. My colleague JT Morgan says he applauds the try but I don’t applaud the try, I think it was very high risk and, obviously, it did not work out.

When the bottom of the seventh inning started, Daniel Robertson was playing third in place of Yandy Diaz, who had come up limping a bit after getting thrown out the previous inning. And…Jose Alvardo was pitching. So that means Emilio Pagan was left in to hit in the top half of the inning and didn’t even stay in to pitch? Am I missing something here? The “Mystery of the Pitcher Allowed to Hit in the One Run Game Only to Be Replaced at the Bottom of the Inning” remains unsolved. Couldn’t Cash have done a patented NL double switch to allow DRob to hit in the pitcher’s spot and move the pitcher to Diaz’s spot?

We would soon learn that, unfortunately, Bemboom’s removal from the game was a response to his complaint of a sore knee, hurt inexplicably in the course of his catching duties. He will be placed on the IL and evaluated, which I assume means we’ll be seeing more of Nick Ciuffo.

Lots of other stuff happened in the next few innings. There was hard hit liner to Meadows that maybe wasn’t gettable, but he looked awkward as the ball caromed for a ground rule double. There was a balk that gave the Marlins a runner on third. There was a four pitch walk in the bottom of the ninth that meant the Marlins had the winning run at the plate. But somehow at the end Diego Castillo threw a slider by Brian Anderson for strike three and Anthony Bemboom’s first major league RBI had stood up as the game winner.

Just as we’d all predicted.

So the upshot? Defeating the Miami Marlins, the worst team in the majors, took seven pitchers. It resulted in three injuries — Yandy Diaz with a sore ankle, Anthony Bemboom with a sore knee, and Guillermo Heredia, who was hit on the wrist by a fastball and is considered day-to-day with a bad bruise.

But it’s still a win; the Rays remain in first place, a half game ahead of the Yankees, who won both games in a double header today. And Anthony Bemboom’s parents had a great night: