Tonight Kevin Cash promised something “unique” from the Rays as far as pitching went, and frankly I’m still trying to figure out how the pitching use was any different from any other bullpen game we’ve seen in recent memory, with the exception of Curtiss not quite making it a whole inning.
The Rays and Phillies traded off leads throughout the game, as the Phillies were hoping to claw their way into a postseason berth while the Rays were still vying to keep a hold on the best record in the American League. There was plenty of dominant pitching from Rays relievers (and we saw a lot of them); some incredible throws by Kevin Kiermaier; and a mic’d up Willy Adames reminding us all what an utter delight he is by calling Diego Castillo “Loco” but “in a friendly way.”
The other thing we saw a lot of was balls finding their way into the gap, which worked well for the Rays hitting against the shift, but less well when the Phillies managed to find their way into a well placed gap.
The game began with opener John Curtiss, and right away it was clear his stuff wasn’t on. Andrew McCutchen hit a leadoff single, and let me tell you, the damage done by McCutchen this game wouldn’t stop there. Alec Bohm singled, then Curtiss managed two flyouts before a Jean Segura singled, and McCutchen scored on an error by Tsutsugo.
Ryan Yarbrough came on to replace Curtiss and managed the last out of the inning, then stayed on for the bulk of the mid-section. The next few innings were quiet in the run department, but in the top of the third, McCutchen made a bold move for home, because apparently he forgot you don’t run on Kevin Kiermaier.
That’s platinum pic.twitter.com/e12Qecg8qF— Tampa Bay Rays - z (@RaysBaseball) September 27, 2020
One of my favorite things in baseball is when a player who committed an error earlier in the game helps the team out with a run in later innings. Brandon Lowe walked in the bottom of the fourth and then was advanced into scoring position by Willy Adames grounding out, and then Tsutsugo, who had committed an error earlier, hit a single to score Lowe to tie the game.
In the top of the fifth unfortunately, one-man wrecking crew Andrew McCutchen hit a solo home run off of reliever Pete Fairbanks, reclaiming the Phillies lead.
Manuel Margot singled in the bottom of the fifth, and as the Fox National announcers discussed how Mike Zunino’s run production wasn’t all that great on the season, he singled to score Margot. Then Arozarena was hit by a pitch, putting two men on. A Brandon Lowe single scored Zunino and gave the Rays the lead, then Willy Adames singled to score Arozarena, giving the Rays a 4-2 lead.
Feeling real RISP-y pic.twitter.com/OMWzSNWQDo— Tampa Bay Rays - z (@RaysBaseball) September 27, 2020
Diego Castillo had the sixth, as did Willy Adames with the hot mic, which was precisely as charming as one might imagine. Then Aaron Slegers came on for the seventh, giving up a leadoff single to McCutchen, and a single to Bohm, and if you guessed he followed that up with a single to Bryce Harper that scored McCutchen, you’d be correct. Which meant up to the seventh, every single Phillies run was scored by Andrew McCutchen (who was also one triple shy of the cycle for the game).
Following an eighth inning walk to Tsutsugo, Zack Wheeler’s night was done, giving way to reliever Connor Brogdon. The best Rays hitter reactions of the whole game might have come from Brogdon switching between his change up and a straight fastball. Needless to say he finished off the side.
Slegers returned to finish the ninth and gave of a pinch hit single to Jay Bruce right down the middle. Fortunately Jean Segura hit a ball right down the third base line and into beautiful double play. Then Bohm hit a lineout directly to Brandon Lowe to end the game.
Rays win 4-3.