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Rays 5, White Sox 2: The Rays bullpen stepped up

Glasnow was lifted after just four innings with an apparent injury

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at Chicago White Sox Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

The Rays took their MLB best 42-24 record to the South Side tonight to embark on a three game set with the Chicago White Sox, who just so happen to be the second best team in baseball. To make matters more interesting, the series opened with a marquee pitching matchup, with Tyler Glasnow taking the hill for the Rays opposite Lance Lynn for the Sox.

Coming into the matchup, Glasnow ranked 3rd in the American league in FanGraphs WAR with 2.3, while Lynn owned an American League best 1.23 ERA. This game had all of the markings of a pitcher’s duel, but the Rays put two on the board early on a double by Randy Arozarena what was followed by a 402 foot home run by the red hot Austin Meadows.

Two innings later, Brandon Lowe added a homer of his own, a towering shot that landed just inside the right field foul pole. It finally looks like Lowe is finding his stroke again. Since the start of June, Lowe had a .256/.326/.436 hitting line coming into tonight’s contest. Still not what we have come to expect from Lowe, but clearly trending in the right direction.

But the three run lead did not last long as the Sox rallied to get two runs back in the bottom of the third. It would end up being the only damage they could muster against Glasnow, who was lifted after just four innings and 53 pitches after showing signs of discomfort on the mound before finishing his last inning of work.

It was a scary moment indeed, as the Rays lifted their ace in an abundance of caution. We would later find out that elbow inflammation was the culprit of Glasnow’s early departure.

So it became an impromptu bullpen game for the Rays, as Ryan Thompson came in to pitch the fifth. He made things interesting, but got out of the inning when he struck out Yermín Mercedes, leaving two on.

From there, JP Feyereisen pitched a clean sixth and seventh, striking out a pair. It was still a 3-2 game in the top of the eighth when the Rays added run in the form or a Randy Arozarena dinger, the first one surrendered by White Sox reliever Garrett Crochet in his big league career.

Now with a two run lead, it was Diego Castillo to pitch the bottom of the eighth. After allowing an infield hit to Tim Anderson, Castillo caught him leaning too far off of first base, erasing him as a baserunner. After that it was an easy inning for the ever reliable Castillo.

In the top of the ninth, the Rays added another run after Taylor Walls doubled to lead off the inning. Two outs later, while Brett Phillips hustled to leg out an infield single, Walls also hustled to score all the way from second on the play.

To close out the game is was Pete Fairbanks, who pitched a clean ninth, retiring the side in order.

Tomorrow night it’s rookie Shane McClanahan for the Rays against the veteran lefty Dallas Keuchel for the White Sox. McClanahan, coming off of a pair of rough outings in which he pitched a combined 6.1 innings, looks to get back on track. It will be interesting to see how the Rays navigate the rest of this series with their pitching, considering the heavy bullpen usage in tonight’s game.

If there is a team that can make it work, however, it’s the Rays.