I have been watching the Rays for years, and I would swear that this team, across the years, plays terribly in weekday getaway games. These games always seem low energy; these are the games when you are just hoping not to get no-hit.
I’m sure someone could fact check me and learn that in fact the Rays are no better or worse on those days then they are on other days. But please don’t fact check me. The heart knows what the heart knows, and in my heart I greet these games with dread.
Well the Rays may not have won today’s game, but I would not call this a low energy game.
Rays hitters certainly reinforced my dread in the first three innings, where Giolito made the Rays hitters look silly. The Rays went hitless through ten batters, when Randy Arozarena ended the no-hitter watch with a double. Still, Giolito remained impressive, with his changeup in particular generating whiffs and keeping batters off balance.
Yarbrough was also pretty efficient and effective, although the White Sox had many more opportunities, as they managed several singles in the first few innings. He allowed a single to start the fourth inning, but things went south quickly when Jose Abreu homered, giving the White Sox a 2-0 lead. It didn’t end there, either. Yarbrough walked the next batter, and then gave up two of the dinkiest possible hits. We are talking exit velocities in the 60mph range. But you know what? 60mph dinks to parts of the field without fielders still count. Two more runs came home, and a 4-0 White Sox lead looked pretty substantial.
In the top of the fifth Rays looked like they were arising from their slumber. Yandy Diaz walked and Wendle doubled to put runners on the corners. A grounder moved Wendle to second, and Kevin Kiermaier was able to deliver a 2 RBI double to cut the lead in half.
But the wheels fell off a bit in the bottom of the fifth, as the Rays gave those runs right back, plus some. A Diaz error was the centerpiece of an inning the ended up with the White Sox ahead, 7-2.
And I’ll bet you thought that was going to be pretty much the story today? I certainly did. But Yarbrough got the team into the seventh inning with no further damage. And meanwhile the Rays chipped away at that lead. One run in the sixth, two in the seventh and the eighth. Mike Zunino’s papa strength helped, with a two-run homer. Yandy Diaz remembered how to get the ball in the air for another homer.
Some sloppy play from the White Sox helped in the eighth inning, and Manuel Margot ended a series 0-fer with an RBI.
By the end of the eighth inning the score was tied, and it would remain tied until the tenth. The Rays free base runner never got farther than third base; the White Sox free baserunner made it home on a walk-off single.
The Rays lost the game and the series. I know I should be unhappy. Heck if they lose tomorrow I will be fully unhappy. But I saw the team scratch its way back from a five run deficit. I saw a bullpen that, sure, ultimately gave up the losing run, but that continues, routinely, to put up zeroes even though the guy we thought would be the bullpen stopper (Nick Anderson) is not there.
This was a closely played series against the other best team in the league. Each game could have gone either way. We’ll get them next time.