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TB 12 MIA 7: Home Run Derby and Spring Training all in one!

A weird, whacky, game concludes the Citrus Series for 2020

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

The first two games of this series were electrifying pitchers duels. The Rays were able to come out on top of close, well fought games with narrow victories through stellar pitching that was just a bit better than the Marlins equally impressive and sharp pitching.

This game was the exact opposite in every conceivable way.

Home Run Derby in August

The Rays wasted no time starting the fireworks display. Joey Wendle leading off, continued his Wendle-sance, launching a HR to showcase the Rays CAN indeed score off Miami pitching before the 2nd half of the game.

After that the Marlins starer, Sandy Alcántara, lost control(?) or tried to pick a fight(?) with Yandy Díaz.

Yandy just smirking the entire time is the most intimidating thing I’ve seen from batter under constant fire from a pitcher. No mean mugging. No yelling. Just a smile that says, “do you really want to try me?”.

The best revenge though is not giving free baserunners to a team desperate to keep up. Instead the best revenge for me is the Yoshi Tsutsugo 2-run bomb immediately after.

The Rays wouldn’t be done with the vengeance at the plate however. In the 4th, the Rays mounted some more pressure on Alcántara. This time, the Rays used small ball and hilarious errors and misplays to tack on. After an error from Villar to allow Renfroe to reach base, Kevan Smith hit what could have been an inning ending double play and instead was played right into 2 Rays runs.

The Marlins helped out some more in the 5th, with a weird grounder that went through Miguel Rojas legs to Villar unable to throw out Yandy hustling down to first. After a walk to Yoshi, Alcántara would give way to the Marlins bullpen. His ERA would give way too.

Willy Adames would deliver a strange grand slam. First he clobbered it, very tall, and it looked like old friend Corey Dickerson almost could make the play. On a slowed down look, Dickerson was even closer than it even looked live.

The grand slam got weirder as then the Marlins challenged the play. Turns out, the Rays runners were also deked out by the Dickerson near catch, and Adames very nearly passed Yoshi on the basses. Thankfully, Willy was able to catch himself, throw on the brakes, and preserve the 4 run HR. Looking back, this should have been the sign that the game was about to get weird.

Spring Training 3.0

The Rays were able to hit around without recording an out in the 5th. The Marlins threw more pitches in the 5th, than Blake Snell had throw to that point in the game. The inning took 35 minutes. It was fun, but a mess. And it started to feel a bit like Spring Training.

After that long delay, Blake Snell came back out and was clearly rusty. He missed his spots, he wasn’t breaking off the curve like he had in the first 4 innings, and quickly found himself giving up a long HR to Lewis Brinson, and then working a couple a hits and walk later the bases were loaded.

While Snell was clearly rusty from the long delay, he did well to get a couple of big Ks, including one breaking off a sexy curve to get Big Swingin’ Dickerson to Big Swingin’ chase the ball in the dirt to end the threat.

From the 5th inning on, the game didn’t just feel like Spring Training 3.0, it basically was a spring game. Anthony Banda got the call to get some work in and frankly he looked terrible. Something was off from jump street with Banda, and he could just not get comfortable with his mechanics or command.

HRs, walks, singles, hit by pitches. It was a mess working through some stuff with a huge 12-2 lead he inherited. Kevin Cash gave him a fairly long leash to try and get some work and eat some innings, but unfortunately he just couldn’t get it going. Banda ended the game with an ugly 1+ IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K line.

There will be better days for Anthony.

Aaron Slegers and Ryan Sherriff would come in and clean up nicely. Slegers would take 2 innings, get 2 Ks and give up no base runners. Sherriff would get the 9th and pick up where he left off with his first Rays appearance: throw all strikes.The lefty threw 6 pitches, 5 for strikes, and got 3 quick outs.

Stat of the Game: 1 2B, 1 1B, and 1 BB

That was Brian O’Grady’s debut line with the Rays. O’Grady looked very comfortable at the plate. His first at bat ended in a strike out, but he worked his way back from 0-2 to foul off multiple pitches and lay off some big breaking balls to work an 8 pitch at bat. Later on he would jump a pitch for a sharp single, and then steal 2nd. Later on he laced a sharp double down the line.

With the trade deadline a day away, we have no idea how the chips will all fall, and what spots will be left when the musical chairs music ends. However, O’Grady’s first Rays game was impressive and he looked the part of a major league power hitter.

Final Thoughts

The Marlins have a fun team this year and are a much better team than many gave them credit for coming into 2020. They have a real shot at making the postseason in the NL and with what we saw from Pablo López and Sixto Sanchez, they could shock the world in a first round best of 3 matchup.

Also they have a fantastic social media team: