The Rays managed a satisfying come from behind win over the Toronto Blue Jays, taking an eighth inning leading and holding it to win the second game of the series.
Brent Honeywell started this in the opener role, the talk being that it would be easier for this starting pitcher to take the mound in the first inning than to come in a relief role. But that didn’t seem to work. He started out by giving up a hard hit single to Cavan Biggio, but then came back to strike out the next two batters. Rowdy Tellez hit a routine grounder to the third base side, but the infield was shifted to defend against this left handed power hitter so the routine grounder was a single.
Randal Grichuk was next up; his foul pop up was playable; Yandy Diaz got to it, held out his glove, and...the ball dropped to the ground.
At that moment we all knew what was coming, didn’t we? Because we all know that handing extra outs to a good-hitting team just about always brings on the evil eye. I could see that Grichuk three run bomb coming even before he made contact. The inning ended with Honeywell having thrown 30 pitches and the Rays already looking at a three run deficit. With Robbie Ray pitching extremely well, it looked like it was going to be a tough night for the AL Champs.
In the second inning we got treated to a Tropicana Field moment that usually only comes only when the Rays are on national television (so national media can make fun of the Trop for a long time). Yarbrough had come in and gotten two quick outs; Biggio then hit a high pop up that took a crazy ricochet before coming down and being fumbled by Yarbrough. After much discussion the umpires decided it had, based on the “preponderance of the evidence” to quote Dewayne Staats, hit something in foul territory and was a dead ball. But the long delay did no favors for the Rays: Biggio singled, Bichette walked, and once again the Blue Jays were threatening with two outs. Fortunately Guerrero’s foul pop up was, miraculously, caught by Zunino to end the inning.
The Rays got a run back in the bottom of the second. The Blue Jays employed a four man outfield against Mike Zunino, and he responded by hitting over all four of their heads for a solo home run.
ZUNINO WITH THE POWER!— Bally Sports Sun: Rays (@BallyRays) April 24, 2021
Mike Zunino sends a solo shot to left and the @RaysBaseball get on the board!
Watch on Bally Sports Sun & stream it here: https://t.co/6fH6Er1q5m #RaysUp pic.twitter.com/SbZA3xRHRA
In the fourth inning the Blue Jays threatened yet again, with poor fielding a big contributor. Playing at third, Mike Brosseau made a great stop on a grounder up the line and threw on one bounce to third. Diaz completely whiffed on the throw, which bounded toward the dugout as the runner took second. Yarbrough hit the next batter to put a man on first. No further damage occurred.
Rays got some help from a similarly poor Toronto play in the bottom of the sixth inning, as Zunino got to second when Guerrero couldn’t wrangle an offline throw from his shortstop. And Mikey Brosseau brought him home with a game tying home run.
Yarbrough was relieved with 2 outs in the 7th having pitched extremely well, allowing his team to creep back into the game. He pitched 5.2 innings allowing 3 hits, giving up just 1 walk to 6 strikeouts.
The Jays looked they were on the verge of blowing the game open in the 8th, with Ryan Thompson pitching. A double, a walk, and a bunt base hit that Brosseau charged but couldn’t cleanly field (how I miss 26 year old Evan Longoria any time I see someone flub that play!) loaded the bases, but a timely strike out ended the inning, with Thompson pumping his fist in delight.
Jordan Romano came on the pitch in the 8th. He didn’t seem to be able to locate his pitches, and also, whenever he went into his deep knee bend start his motion the Trop crowd yelled in unison — Brian Anderson thought they were yelling “balk.” Did this contribute to his inability to get any outs? He walked Lowe and Brosseau and that set the stage for Manuel Margot to slice a ball down the third base line on what I thought was a legit extra base hit but which the official scorer called an error on the third baseman (the ball went between Biggio’s legs but it was very hard hit).
Lowe scored, but the not-too-speedy Brosseau was out at the plate on a perfect relay throw (I don’t blame him for trying to score there). Margot scored on a KK ground out to give the Rays a 5-3 lead.
Andrew Kittredge came in to close, and although he did allow a runner to get as far as third base, he also got three outs to end the game.
One final thought: although he did get several hits against the Royals, for the most part Willy Adames has been painful to watch at the plate. Yet, he is still the first guy up to congratulate teammates when they do well. I’m still hopeful that Adames will find his groove.