Starting a new series on the West Coast, the Rays looked to shake off the last series in New York and start a fresh series on the right note against the Oakland Athletics.
Charlie Morton took the ball for the Rays, and as Morton has done many times this season, he cruised through this game with minimal mistakes and a strong performance. Frankie Montas, however, was just as good as Morton.
Through four innings, neither pitcher had allowed a run, with Morton and Montas both striking out four a piece. The fifth inning brought a change to that narrative, with Jurickson Profar hitting his tenth home run on the season in the bottom of the fifth off of Morton, giving Oakland a 1-0 lead.
In the top of the sixth during Montas’ third time through the order, Tommy Pham returned an 86 mph splitter at 104 mph to tie the game at 1-1 on a solo home run.
Morton continued to pitch in the sixth inning, striking out Matt Olson after Matt Chapman reached base on a single. Willy Adames started a nifty double play to end the inning.
In the top of the seventh, some major controversy started, and not because of anything on the baseball field. It started with Ryne Stanek’s take on hot dogs, claiming that they ARE a sandwich in his TV interview with Tricia Whitaker. That opinion is debatable among itself (I agree with him that they are sandwiches), but what Stanek said after that really stirred the pot.
Here’s the interview with Stanek’s debatable opinions in full:
Returning to things actually on the field, Charlie Morton struck out Ramon Laureano in the bottom of the seventh before allowing a double to Robbie Grossman. Grossman would be Morton’s final batter, ending Morton’s night with 6.1 innings after 105 pitches thrown, 61 of those for strikes. With six strikeouts and two talks, Morton allowed one run on four hits.
Emilio Pagan pitched the next 1.2 innings, striking out two in the process before giving way to the Rays offense in the top of the ninth. Frankie Montas pitched eight innings for Oakland and Blake Treinen was called upon to try and keep the game a 1-1 tie and to give the A’s a chance to walk it off.
Treinen was not the elite pitcher tonight that he was last season, allowing a leadoff walk to Tommy Pham. Treinen then walked Brandon Lowe. Pham and Lowe then executed a perfect double steal to put two runners in scoring position for Avisail Garcia, and Garcia delivered with an RBI base hit to put the Rays ahead, 2-1.
With Ji-Man Choi at the plate and runners at the corners, Avisail Garcia stole second base to give Choi two runners in scoring position, and just like Garcia did in the plate appearance before, Choi drove home a run to extend the lead to 3-1.
Treinen’s night was done after allowing the second run, and Ryan Buchter came in to try and limit the damage. Willy Adames laid down a perfect bunt to plate Garcia from third and to extend the lead to 4-1, with the inning ending after Lou Trivino replaced Buchter and recorded the final two outs.
Diego Castillo was called upon to close this game out for the Rays, and Castillo got off to a rough start in the inning. Walking the leadoff batter Robbie Grossman and allowing an advance to second on a wild pitch, Castillo induced a ground ball to finally get one out on the board. After walking Jurickson Profar, Castillo struck out Beau Taylor looking.
Oakland scored a run when Marcus Semien hit a ball back up the middle and Kiermaier misplayed the ball, putting runners on second and third for Matt Chapman. Then that was it! With two outs, Chapman at the plate and the Rays up 4-2 on the scoreboard, the game ended! Castillo threw the final pitch in the game and the final score was published!
I cannot think of a worse way to end this already terrible day with today’s Rays news. Baseball is so frustrating. I wrote this recap as happy as can be and put the finishing touches on it when the Rays were up 4-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, but Castillo came into this came and sometime’s there is just nothing you can do when writing these.
The second game of the series takes place tomorrow night in Oakland at 10 pm.