There’s a finish line ahead, so close you can see it, and for the Rays it’s not just a matter of finishing the season strong, they still need to make sure they lock down the division and keep their claim to the best record in the AL. They might have secured their place in the postseason, but if they have their way, there’s still celebrating to be done before the first weekend in October wraps up.
Tonight’s game must have felt good with that in mind. The Rays squared off against the Marlins in their final homestand of the season, and as games go, this one couldn’t have gone better for a playoff-bound team.
David (you can’t stop me from wanting to type Daniel) Robertson was the Opener for the Rays, facing Marlins rookie pitcher Edward Cabrera. Cabrera was fairly rocky for the first two innings of the game and the Rays certainly made him pay for it.
Robertson gave off a leadoff walk in the first to Rojas, who was then picked off in an attempt to steal second. The inning ended with De La Cruz picking a fight with the umpire to get himself tossed from the game and replaced with Sierra in the outfield. In the bottom of the inning the Rays struck early. With two outs in the bottom of the first, Choi drew a walk, then Cruz singled. Meadows drew a walk to load the bases, then a deep double off the bat of Arozarena scored three runs. Not too shabby for the first inning.
The 1st went well both here and in Boston pic.twitter.com/DM3HxG4Ece— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 24, 2021
Yarbrough was the middle innings man for the Rays and while he was still showing some signs of unease, he kept things scoreless for his whole six innings of work. Let’s see how that shaped up.
In the top of the second Yarbs gave up one single to Brinson, but no other baserunners got aboard and no runs scored. In the bottom of the inning Mejia walked, followed by a Kiermaier walk (Kiermaier was busy tonight), but the next three batters went in order, so the score remained unchanged.
A hit-by-pitch to Alvarez topped the third inning, but Henry then grounded into a double play to eliminate the risk. The Marlins retired scoreless once again. The Rays similarly went down in order in the bottom of the inning.
Sanchez got a two-out double in the fourth, but the next batter ended the threat. In the bottom of the fourth, Wendle kicked things off by laying down an absolutely textbook bunt. Then Mejia doubled, sending Wendle to third. Kiermaier was up next and his double brought home both Wendle and Mejia, putting the Rays up 5-0.
KK drops in for 2 more in the 4th pic.twitter.com/xjRj2a2NFq— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 25, 2021
The Marlins went down 1-2-3 in the fifth, but the Rays weren’t yet finished scoring. Meadows got a one-out single. Wendle walked. Then on a wild pitch they were both able to advance to scoring position. Mejia hit a single to score both Wendle and Meadows, and Kiermaier got himself another single, but no additional runs scored. Still, the Rays were now up 7-0.
Again in the sixth the Marlins went in order. In the bottom of the inning a leadoff walk to Wander Franco extended his on-base streak to 40 games, 3 shy of tying the record. No runs scored, but we do love an extended streak.
Not to bore you, but once again the Marlins were set down in order in the seventh. A fine outing overall from Yarbrough as he seemed to really settle in towards the end of the evening. In the bottom of the inning Arozarena singled, then with two outs, Kiermaier struck again with a looooong triple to score Arozarena. Rays up 8-0.
Once more in the eighth the Marlins took a brief visit to home plate but then headed back to the dugout. Franco doubled to kick off the bottom of the inning, then advanced to third on defensive indifference. He didn’t score. That’s okay.
Top of the ninth and I think you probably know where this is going... Yup, you guessed it. Marlins down in order.
Final: Rays 8, Marlins 0