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Rays 4 Orioles 3: Mikey Perez comes through

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MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Tampa Bay Rays Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays defeated the Orioles tonight and it wasn’t pretty.

The box score will tell you that the Rays committed two errors tonight, but there were at least two other consequential plays that should have been made, as well as some inconsequential plays that should have been made, but weren’t.

Moreover, with 9 runners left on base, the offense was not exactly firing on all cylinders.

But the Rays came away with a win, and credit goes to some pretty good pitching and the power bat of one Michael Perez.

The Orioles get started early. Cedric Mullins bunted for a hit, and scored when Hanser Alberto hit what looked like a single to Renfroe in right field, Renfroe ran right past the ball and turned it into an RBI triple. A few pitches in and the Orioles had a 1-0 lead. Orioles scored yet again on another sloppy play — Renato Nunez hit a grounder to a second with a drawn in infield. Wendle fielded the ball and had a clean shot to catch the runner at home, but his throw sailed over the catcher to the backstop. Fortunately Perez was able to field the ball and catch Nunez off base at first which helped keep the inning from getting completely out of control.

The Rays tied things up in the third, with Austin Meadows drawing a walk followed by a B-Lowe home run.

The Rays took the lead in the bottom of the fifth inning. Margot doubled, Meadows walked, Lowe reached on a hit by pitch. Yandy Diaz pinch hit for Wendle after a Baltimore pitching change, and chopped a high grounder fielders choice that scored Margot. Rays up 3-2.

In midst of this long bottom fifth, an odd thing happened. Kiermaier was batting and mid-at-bat suddenly appeared seemed to be limping. The trainer came out, Kiermaier was pulled with Adames coming in to pinch hit (he struck out looking). It was later revealed that he was suffering from back spasms, something I believe that has plagued him before.

Thompson did a good job finishing the fifth and getting the Rays through the sixth. Pete Fairbanks was next up in the seventh. After two outs, he gave up a grounder to Alberto that went past a not quite diving Diaz. It was called an error, which is odd, because earlier mistakes that seemed more egregious had been ruled hits. At any rate, the single plus a wild pitch then allowed the tying run to score on another single (briefly bobbled by Tsutsugo in left — because why not?). So at the end of seven the score was tied.

But fear not! Because Rays catcher Michael Perez came up in the eighth with two outs, and hit a ball that just cleared the fence in center field, his first extra base hit of the year and first home run in two years. Perez had hit a warning track shot to dead center his last game; how nice that he got that extra bit of power to get it over the fence when the Rays needed it.

If the defense was shaky, a few other aspects of the game deserve praise. The Rays drew seven walks, a sign of some good, patient at bats. And let’s hear it for tonight’s pitchers, who gave up no earned runs and struck out nine, with Diego Castillo closing the door with a two strikeout ninth.

No, I didn’t think this team would be seeking to consolidate their first place lead with Ryan Thompson and Ryan Sheriff, but here we are and they rose to the occasion. By the way I already like Sheriff; in his postgame interview he said he had meditated this morning before hearing he was being called up so he felt pretty calm about the whole thing.

I’m sure you will all be sad to hear that Gerrit Cole got hit around a bit tonight in Atlanta and the Yankees were swept in their double header with the Braves.

I will admit it felt a little strange to be focused on this game tonight, with a deadly hurricane bearing down on our friends to the west, and other sporting events shutting down to protest police and vigilante violence in Wisconsin. Kevin Cash briefly addressed the latter in his postgame remarks, saying in summary that for now any conversations about these issues would remain in the clubhouse.

The Rays will close out their homestead tomorrow, with Ryan Yarbrough on the mound.