This has not been a great stretch of games for the Clevland baseball club, going 1-9 over their last 10 games, and facing off against a Rays club four games back of the top spot in the AL East. Cleveland, in spite of their recent slump, is still second in the AL Central, which might be more of a commentary on the quality of the AL Central than on how well Cleveland is doing.
The most exciting part of this early afternoon outing between the clubs was, of course, the debut of Vidal Brujan, getting the call up from Durham to join the freshly arrived Taylor Walls and Wander Franco as some highly-anticipated prospect debuts for the season.
Brujan wasted absolutely not time making a splash with the Rays, starting with an incredible diving catch in the top of the first inning.
Think he's gonna fit in just fine pic.twitter.com/3Fd8yV4lbf— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 7, 2021
With Brujan’s fast hands the Rays were able to keep the top of the first a quick 1-2-3 inning. The bottom of the first presented me with a moment of genuine confusion when it was announced that Mejia was on the mound, but it was Cleveland’s Mejia, of course. He gave up a walk to Choi, but then Wendle grounded into a fielder’s choice, erasing Choi as a baserunner. Meadows was hit by a pitch, putting two men aboard, and Wendle moving into scoring position, which brought newbie Brujan to the plate. He got a bit ahead of himself early on, swinging viciously at two pitches and falling behind in the count, but then a well-located single to right gave him his first major league hit, and first RBI as Wendle came home.
He then successfully stole second base on what looked like defensive indifference, but hey, first MLB stolen base. Have yourself a first inning, Vidal. Kiermaier doubled, bringing Brujan (first career run) and Meadows home, and giving the Rays an early 3-0 lead.
In the top of the second, Cleveland got one back with a leadoff solo home run from Reyes. Wacha got through the rest of the batters without further damage. The Rays went down in order in the second, which I just have to assume was their way of helping balance out pace of play for the game after that long first inning.
In the third Wacha gave up a single to Hernandez, then a single to Rosario, but not Cleveland runs scored. The bottom of the inning saw the Rays continue to extend their lead. Wendle doubled, Meadows walked, and while Brujan grounded out, he did advance both runners. Which was nice, but unnecessary since Kevin Kiermaier came out and smashed a three-run home run, ending the day for Mejia.
Wacha had another 1-2-3 inning in the top of the fourth, and then in the bottom of the fourth with two outs in the inning, Brandon Lowe hit a no-doubt solo shot to right, extending the Rays lead to 7-1.
The top of the fifth started with Wacha hitting Zimmer with a pitch to put a man on base, the Perez doubled to deep center. Wacha collected the next three outs, though, and Cleveland left two men stranded.
Evidently, during the half-inning break someone got engaged at the game, so congrats to the happy couple. Weird choice to get engaged in a hot sauce-themed lounge in the middle of the afternoon on a Wednesday, but all the power to them.
Meadows got a single in the bottom of the fifth. Sadly Kevin Kiermaier wasn’t able to pull off another incredible scoring inning with five RBIs already on his ledger today, and the Rays did not score any runners in the fifth.
Wacha once again retired the side in the top of the sixth inning, and in the bottom of the sixth with two outs, it was Brett Phillips’s turn to shine with a solo home run that almost went into the ray tank.
In the top of the seventh — the last inning of the game, since it’s a two-game doubleheader — saw Ryan Sherriff come on, and thanks to a replay review on a Johnson single, that was clearly an out, the game ended swiftly.
Final: Rays 8, Cleveland 1