Coming into tonight’s game, the Rays had the American League’s best staff ERA and Cleveland baseball’s third worst offense.
For the Rays, it was veteran lefty Rich Hill who faced off against Cleveland lefty Logan Allen, who has struggled mightily so far this season. It didn’t take long for the Rays to put a crooked number on the board, as this blast off the bat of Brandon Lowe put the Rays up four.
There was very little doubt when the pitch left Lowe’s bat.
Hill turned in three stellar frames before getting into some trouble in the fourth, surrendering two hits, a walk and two hit by pitches. Luckily, only one run was surrendered, as Drew Rasmussen entered the game to get out of the bases loaded, two out jam. The Rays added another in the bottom of the inning on a fly ball by Manuel Margot that scored Lowe once again.
But as quickly as Rasmussen was able to bail out the Hill in the fourth, he got into some trouble of his own in the fifth. Rasmussen gave the Cleveland offense a steady diet of high velocity heaters, but struggled to command his slider. Limited to just one pitch he could throw with confidence, disaster struck in the form of a game tying homer by Franmil Reyes off the base of the Ray tank.
Franmil Reyes ties it with a two run homer in the 5th. pic.twitter.com/JePrg0ZD4O— Justin Groc (@jgroc) July 6, 2021
Four runs later, Rasmussen was lifted for lefty Jeffrey Springs, who got out of the inning without giving up any more runs.
For Cleveland, Allen’s fate was similar to Hill’s as he was also lifted in the fourth inning. He gave way to 27 year old rookie Justin Garza, who was able to keep the Rays at bay long enough for the Cleveland offense to put three more runs on the board in the sixth against both Springs and J.P. Feyereisen. And it was Reyes once again, this time with a double off the top of the centerfield wall.
The Rays offense was not done, however. They got one run back against Nick Wittgren, and after Cleveland responded by bringing in Bryan Shaw, they had the go ahead run at the plate in Randy Arozarena. Ultimately, though, it was the end of the threat.
The ever reliable Andrew Kittredge came in to keep the Rays within two, and that is exactly what he did. In the bottom of the inning, the Rays offense chipped away once again, with Yandy Diaz adding a homer of his own, a shot down the right field line to put the Rays within one.
Yandy Diaz - Tampa Bay Rays (4) pic.twitter.com/CflkT9c6UY— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) July 6, 2021
But while scoring just one in the final two frames may seem reasonable, It’s a particularly tall task against the lights out Cleveland A-bullpen of James Karinchak and Emmanuel Clase. The former pitched a one two three eighth, but the latter wasn’t so lucky.
Clase immediately put two men on, and then he met Wander Franco.
Wander Franco ties this game up in the 9th pic.twitter.com/EKHafwTAuC— Dillard Barnhart (@BarnHasSpoken) July 6, 2021
With the game tied, first base open and still nobody out, Cleveland decided to walk Meadows, bringing Diaz to the plate with the chance to end the game. And with a ground ball to the right side, bringing in Arozarena for the game winning run.
In all, it was a great offensive performance by the Rays, but the pitching left a lot to be desired tonight.
The Rays will return to action on Wednesday in a doubleheader as tomorrow night’s game has been postponed due to the path of Tropical Storm Elsa.