In a back and forth game where at times it looked like the winning streak was dead, the Rays picked themselves up off the mat and prevailed with a 6-4 win over the Blue Jays. The win was Tampa Bay’s tenth in a row, the second longest win streak in team history. With this win and the Red Sox loss, the Rays move into a first place tie in the AL East.
Fresh off the IL, Michael Wacha got the open, with Josh Fleming expected to get the bulk innings. They were backed by this lineup.
The Blue Jays sent out Hyun-jin Ryu.
The Rays struck first in the top of the first. Randy Arozarena led off with a double off the left field wall. Ryu then retired the next two with no advancement on the bases by Randy, and it looked like the Blue Jays lefty ace might wiggle out of it. But Manuel Margot lined an 0-1 curve just over a leaping Bichette, scoring Randy.
Michael Wacha navigated through a clean bottom of the first, thanks in large part to a couple exceptional plays by Brett Phillips.
Thank you for flying Maverick Airlines pic.twitter.com/PW2VHUAn1k— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) May 23, 2021
In the Rays half of the second, they managed just a single from Mejía before going down. In the Jays half, there were two more grabs by Phillips before Gurriel broke up Wacha’s no hit bid with a single to left. Wacha finished the inning by fanning Espinal.
The Rays went in order in the top of the third.
Josh Fleming took over in the bottom of the third and pitched around a Semien two out single on his way to a scoreless frame.
In the fourth, the Rays were victims of an aggressive send that didn’t work out. It started when Brosseau lined a soft two out single to left. Choi followed by driving one off the wall in left, but a perfect play of the carom by Davis and perfect relay by Bichette got Brossseau at home by plenty.
Eh, Willy did it better.
In the bottom of the fourth with one out, Teoscar Hernandez drove one out to left. 1-1 tie.
A Grichuk single and a Espinal walk put two on with two outs. Fleming got out of it thanks to another nice grab by Phillips.
The Rays retook the lead in the top of the fifth when Mejía launched an 0-2 fastball out to left.
In the bottom of the fifth, the Jays put together a two out rally. Singles from Bichette, Guerrero, and Hernandez tied the game. 2-2. Fleming rebounded by striking out Grichuk to end the rally.
With two out in the top of the sixth, Margot reached on an infield single, and moved up to second when Espinal’s throw got past Guerrero. Brosseau then reached on a five pitch walk, but Choi was unable to cash in the chance when he was called out on strikes on a borderline call.
In the middle of the sixth, Cash came out to talk to the umpires. He was holding the lineup card and pointing toward the bullpen. He did this again in the middle of the seventh. More on this later once it makes sense!
In the top of the seventh, Walls lobbed (68 mph!) a one out single to right. Phillips then bunted for a hit, but tapped it back to the mound and was retired. Walls advanced to second on the play.
Rafael Dolis took over for Ryu to face Arozarena. Randy took the first pitch and sliced toward right, but directly at Guerrero for the out.
Meanwhile, Fleming seemed to have found his stride, setting down the side in order in the sixth and the seventh.
Meadows drew a one out walk in the eighth. After Margot lined out softly to right, Cash made the decision to stay with Brosseau instead of pinch hitting Lowe or Wendle. Bross struck out swinging to end the threat.
It was a bit of a surprise to see Fleming back out for the eighth. Especially after Hernandez reached on an infield single and Grichuk homered to center. 4-2 Jays.
But there was no quit in these Rays, as they hung a four-spot on the Jays pen. Montoyo gave the ball to Chatwood for the ninth, and he promptly walked Choi (this would be a theme). Lowe then pinch hit for Mejìa and singled to left on the first pitch. Walls followed and worked a 3-2 count before grounding into a 3-6 force out. Phillips was next, and he drove a 1-0 sinker into center for a single, scoring Choi. Walls stopped at second.
A Randy line out to right and a Diaz walk loaded the bases with two outs.
Montoyo called for one of his lefties, Travis Bergen, to face Meadows and get out of this. Though Cash had Zunino in the bench, he stayed with the left on left matchup.
Walls dancing off third clearly got in Bergen’s head, and Meadows worked an incredible at bat to earn a nine pitch walk to force in the tying run.
Things proceeded to get worse and worse for Bergen until things were at full meltdown. A five pitch walk to Margot and a four pitch walk to Brosseau gave the Rays the lead and an insurance run at 6-4.
Finally, Choi flew out to left to mercifully end the inning.
J.P Fire — er, fryer — um — JPF got the call to close it out for the Rays. He pitched around a Semien single to strike out the side.
The boys have a day game tomorrow to try and finish this four game sweep. Game time is at 1:07 PM. Ryan Yarbrough gets the start.