Beginning a seven game home-stand, the Rays welcomed the Oakland Athletics to beautiful Tropicana Field for a three game series.
Taking the mound for the Rays was Charlie Morton, looking for his eighth win on the season before his first loss. Florida native Tanner Anderson took the mound for the A’s, with Anderson making his first career start in a Major League game.
With this game being such a well-played pitching duel through five innings, let’s take an inning-by-inning look at this game since neither offense left much to talk about during those first innings.
Charlie Morton allowed a bloop single to Marcus Semien and then hit Matt Olson with a pitch after getting Matt Chapman to line out. Morton struck out Khris Davis and Stephen Piscotty to end the inning.
Tanner Anderson made quick work of the Rays’ bats in the bottom of the first, getting Austin Meadows and Tommy Pham out before recording a strikeout of Brandon Lowe.
Morton threw only eight pitches in the second inning, getting each Oakland hitter out and not breaking a sweat in the process.
Hey, look at Anderson’s leg kick, it’s weird! After Garcia struck out, Ji-Man Choi and Yandy Diaz both grounded out to end the inning.
Charlie Morton’s toughest inning in this one was the third inning. After recording the first out in the inning, Marcus Semien got on base with a hit, and Morton walked the next two batters to load the bases. Those walks would be the last of Morton’s mistakes, as Morton struck out Khris Davis and induced a groundball from Piscotty to end the inning. Mike Zunino made a terrific recovery behind the plate during Piscotty’s at-bat.
The Rays threatened in the bottom of the third after Kiermaier singled and Brandon Lowe walked with only one out, but neither would score as Anderson would get Meadows and Pham out to end the inning.
Charlie Morton struck out Jurickson Profar to end the inning after quickly recording outs of Robbie Grossman and Ramon Laureano.
A shift-beating single by Ji-Man Choi was the only highlight of this inning, as Lowe, Garcia and Diaz all hit into outs across the infield.
Beau Taylor watched strike three go by to start the inning before Semien grounded out and Chapman flew out. Tommy Pham made a terrific catch at the wall to make sure that Chapman’s ball would not be anything other than an out.
The fifth inning was Tanner Anderson’s best inning, as Anderson forced Kiermaier to fly out before striking out Mike Zunino and Daniel Robertson.
Charlie Morton was at it again with the strikeouts in the sixth inning, punching out Olson before striking out Khris Davis for the third time tonight. Piscotty would fly out to end the inning.
Austin Meadows walked to lead off the inning and finally, with one smooth swing of the bat, the Rays were on the board when Brandon Lowe scorched a ball over the left field wall to give the Rays a 2-0 lead.
Anderson’s final batter would be Avisail Garcia, and following Garcia’s strikeout, Yusmeiro Petit was called upon to relieve Anderson. Ji-Man Choi struck out to end the inning.
Kevin Kiermaier’s Inning
It did not take long for Charlie Morton to retire the side, but the final out in the inning was made by Kevin Kiermaier, who made a fantastic catch at the wall on a fly ball by Jurickson to end the inning.
Kevin Kiermaier’s remarkable inning continued in the bottom half of the seventh, after Yandy Diaz doubled off of the right field wall to give Kiermaier a runner in scoring position. Kiermaier took a ball before smashing a pitch behind the center field wall past a jumping Ramon Laureano to double the Rays’ lead at 4-0.
Wei-Chung Wang was called upon to pitch after Petit, and Wang got out of the inning without allowing any additional runs.
Charlie Morton’s day was done after seven outstanding innings. Allowing only two hits and walking two early, Morton struck out seven, throwing 56 strikes out of 92 pitches, lowering his ERA to 2.10. Colin Poche pitched in the eighth inning and was completely unhittable, striking out two and hitting 95 mph on both of his strikeouts, shown in this GIF.
Bob Melvin chose Joakim Soria to pitch in the ninth, and Avisail Garcia quickly welcomed Soria into the game with a single to left field. Ji-Man Choi continued the scoring in this fun game, hitting a loud home run to right field that went 445 feet and extending the lead to 6-0.
Poche would pitch two batters into the ninth, walking one and getting one out, before handing the ball over to Chaz Roe. Roe would allow two runners to score on two hits but would ultimately close this game out with the Rays as the victorious side.
Taking the division lead by .5 games, Charlie Morton pitched a superb game against Oakland to help secure the win with the offense’s outburst. Brandon Lowe now has three home runs in his last two games, Kevin Kiermaier continues to shine, and Ji-Man Choi’s bat could not be any hotter. Colin Poche has been strong in his first two appearances, despite what his ERA may show.
The Rays will look to take the middle game of this series tomorrow night in Tropicana Field at 7 pm.