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Rays 2, Cleveland 3: Rays can’t close the deal

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Yarbs is sharp as the Rays carry a lead into the eighth, only to let it slip away

Tampa Bay Rays v Cleveland Indians Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images

On getaway day in Cleveland, the Rays missed a chance for their third four game road sweep of the year, losing a late lead and dropping the contest 3-2. The loss snapped Tampa Bay’s five game winning streak. Coupled with the Red Sox rally against the Yankees, it dropped the Rays to a game back of Boston.

Ryan Yarbrough got the start against Triston McKenzie.

The Rays scored first in the top of the first, thanks to a Randy single, a Ji-Man walk, a flyout from Cruz that advanced the runners, and an RBI groundout from Meadows. Unfortunately, Cleveland tied it up in the bottom of the first with a leadoff dinger by Cesar Hernandez. 1-1 game.

The Rays had a chance to take the lead in the fourth. With two outs, Franco doubled to left. Wendle followed with a single to right, but Linares put up an uncharacteristically conservative stop sign. McKenzie then struck out Mejia to get out of the jam.

The general consensus seems to be that Linares put up the stop sign because Franco did not get a very good secondary lead. And while that is true, Wander was still in decent position to score. If anything, the odds in challenging Mercado were probably better than the odds of Mejia driving in the run with a hit. So I may be in the minority, but this was a bad call by Linares.

In the sixth, Nellie led off by hitting an absolute — um — Cruz missile out to center.

107.3 mph, 19 degrees(!!!), 406 feet. 2-1 Rays.

Cleveland challenged in the bottom of the frame when (Gaither product) Oscar Mercado hit a two out single to right, then stole second. Perez followed by flying deep toward the rightfield corner, which was run down by Arozarena.

Yarbrough danced his way through seven innings and looked like vintage Yarbs. After the lead off homer, he scattered just four additional hits (one of which was a pop up Wander lost in the sun) while walking one and striking out six. It was a beautiful performance.

Slider specialist Matt Wisler got the eighth, and it did not go well. He gave a single to right from Hernandez and hit Rosario with a rare fastball to start things. Harold Ramirez followed by singling to right, scoring Hernandez and tying the game. Bobby Bradley then gave Cleveland the lead on a sac fly to center. 3-2 Cleveland, and that was it for Wisler.

Recently promoted Sean Poppen took over with Ramirez on second. He got Daniel Johnson to groundout and struck out Perez, keeping the game in reach for the ninth. Good job, Poppen.

Emmanuel Clase — he of the 100mph cutter — came on for Cleveland in the top of the ninth. And in a bit of a surprise, he relied mostly on his slider. Franco worked the count full before grounding to first. Wendle followed by striking out on four pitches. Pinch hitter Brandon Lowe finished it by lining out left.

Even with the loss, there was still several bright spots.

  1. Yarbrough was fantastic (see above)
  2. Ji-Man Choi bailed out his infield mates several times, including with this incredible face down split.

3. That blast from Cruz didn’t get higher than 53 feet above the ground at its apex.

The Rays are off tomorrow. They host the Yankees for a three game set starting Tuesday. Game time is at 7:10 PM