In a game worthy of the glorious rainbow jerseys the (Devil) Rays wore, Tampa Bay knocked off Boston 9-5 before a raucous crowd on 20,521. The win clawed the Rays back into first place by a .5 game.
Ryan Yarbrough got the start against old friend Nathan Eovaldi.
It’s a Devil Ray kind of day pic.twitter.com/o8wsgl67gv— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 31, 2021
Yarbrough paid homage to Devil Rays past by allowing the Red Sox to put up a three spot in the first, the big hit being a two run blast by Bogaerts.
But the Rays got two of those runs right back in the bottom of the first when BLowe led off with a double, and Ji-Man Choi followed with a bomb to right.
3-2 Red Sox.
In the bottom of the third, Lowe reached with one out on an error from second baseman Araúz. Choi then singled to right after a long at bat, with Lowe taking third on some aggressive baserunning. Cruz got the runner home on another error by Araùz. 3-3 tie.
A fly deep center from Meadows moved Choi to third with two out, but Arozarena was unable to get the man in, popping out to short right.
The Rays finished the first comeback of the night in the fourth. Wendle led off the inning with a single to right. Two outs later, Mejía took a 1-2 middle-middle fastball out to right center.
Meanwhile, Yarbs righted the ship and cruised through rest of the early innings, at one point retiring 11 straight. But in the top of the fifth, Vazquez singled and Dalbec homered to tie the game at five.
Kittredge got the call for the sixth, and sort of made a mess of things before bailing himself out. With one out, he walked Bogaerts, then gave up a double to Renfroe. An intentional pass to Verdugo loaded the bases for Vázquez. Kitt then fell behind 3-0 before coming back to get the strikeout on high heat. He then struck out Dalbec in three pitches to get himself out of the jam.
In the bottom of the frame with Eovaldi still pitching, Joey Wendle worked a one out walk. Wander then worked an eight pitch at bat before ripping one up the right field line for a triple, scoring Wendle.
That would be it for Eovaldi. Josh Taylor got the ball for the Sox. KK stuck out swinging and Mejia grounded to short, leaving Franco stranded at third.
Springs took over for the seventh. With one out, he gave a single to left by Hernandez and a bunt single to Devers. On the bunt play, Springs’ knee buckled and he went down in a heap. He left the game, though he did walk off on his own which was a surprise given how things looked when he went down. It was later reported to be a right knee sprain, which is probably the best news we could have hoped for.
Matt Wisler came on and picked up his teammate, but not before things got ever dicier. After he got Martinez to ground to first, he walked Bogaerts to load the bases for Renfroe. Wisler fell behind 3-1 before dropping a slider at the top of the zone for a called strike two, then dotting another slider on the outside edge that Renfroe swung through.
Lead intact, but I gotta go change my shorts!
Wisler stayed on for the eighth and worked a clean inning, though it didn’t really feel clean. But we take what we can get.
The Rays got some insurance in the bottom of the eighth. Meadows ripped a lead off double to right off Adam Ottavino to start things. Ottavino then hit Randy with a 1-2 sinker. After Wendle struck out on three pitches, Franco went down and got a 1-2 slider, scoring pinch runner Brett Phillips.
Another RBI from the Wanderboy pic.twitter.com/xVicDqOoAc— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 1, 2021
After a pitching change, KK fell behind 0-2 before a slider got away from Vázquez, moving both runners up. KK could not get the runners in as he struck out. But Mejia followed by lining an 0-2 slider into center, scoring Randy and Wander.
Chris Mazza got the call to wrap things up. Mazza filled up the zone, throwing 17 of 19 pitches for strikes, but had some trouble putting hitters away. But he battled through it, and despite allowing Hernandez to reach on an infield single and a throwing error, he shut the door on Boston.
First place, baby!
Your Three Stars of the game:
- Francisco Mejia, clutch go ahead dinger and a big insurance two run single.
- Wander Franco, who worked some incredible at bats and was rewarded with a 2 for 4, 2 RBI night, in a game that felt a lot like a coming out party.
- Ji-Man Choi, whose first inning homer provided an immediate answer to Boston’s three spot.
The Rays go for a sweep tomorrow at 7:08 PM on an ESPN game.