In reality, neither team deserved to win this game. But, after scoring 1 run across 24 innings, the Rays deserved to lose this game and this series more than the Guardians. Eventually, after 15 brutal offensive innings, that is exactly what happened. After squandering opportunity after opportunity, stranding nine runners on base, and striking out 20 times, the Rays finally lost and their season came to a seemingly merciful end when Oscar Gonzalez lofted a ball over the wall and sent the Indians to the ALDS.
The Rays top four hitters combined to go 2-22 today and went 3-37 over the two games combined.The rest of the lineup only mustered an additional four hits. Across two games and 24 innings, the Rays combined for 12 hits and 1 run. They struck out 29 times. The only extra base hit they had came off the bat of Jose Siri, a homer. That homer also represented the only run the Rays would score.
They just didn't deserve to win. Well, the pitchers deserved to win. They only made two mistakes and gave up three runs in the process. Unfortunately, there are two sides to baseball, and the bats didn't show up.
It was an inexcusable showing, nonetheless it was one that came to be expected of this club over the past 6 months. Scoring was always an issue. The lack of power was glaring. Outs on the bases killed the Rays at times. The inability to string together hits was painful to watch, and it was the final nail in the Rays coffin in 2022. Not a single hitter made an adjustment over the course of the series against Cleveland, and in a game of adjustments, those who fail to adjust, lose.
On the game:
Tyler Glasnow and Triston McKenzie faced off in electric fashion, trading scoreless frames until Glasnow reached his innings limit after the fifth. McKenzie would throw six scoreless, surrender a pair of hits and walks, while striking out eight.
Glasnow, making just his third start of the season was equally as dominant. He allowed a pair of hits, no walks, and struck out five.
Tyler Glasnow. 85mph Hammer. ⚒️ pic.twitter.com/X5TvGuyilv— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 8, 2022
It wasn't until Glasnow left the game that things would get interesting. With the game knotted at 0-0, Kevin Cash turned to Pete Fairbanks to face the top of the Guardians lineup. Fairbanks, however looked uncomfortable from the jump, walking both hitters he faced prior to leaving the game with an apparent hand injury.
Cash then turned to Jason Adam, who promptly hit the first batter he faced to load the bases for none other than Jose Ramirez. Jason Adam quickly returned to form though and struck out one of the best hitters in the sport, setting up the possibility for an inning ending double play. Sure enough, he was able to induce a double play off the bat of Josh Naylor to end the inning and hold the Guardians scoreless.
annnnnndddd breathe pic.twitter.com/Ekr0NS55JB— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) October 8, 2022
Following the gutsy and potentially game saving performance by Adam, Karinchak would take over on the mound for the Guardians. Despite a two out walk to Margot, the Rays would be held scoreless yet again as Margot was caught stealing.
Adam would return to the mound in the bottom of the 7th inning and toss another scoreless inning, getting another inning ending double play.
In the top of they eight inning, Trevor Stephan took over for Karinchak and threw yet another scoreless frame.
Drew Rasmussen was the next Rays pitcher to enter of the game and he made quick work of the Guardians retiring Hedges, Shaw, and Kwan in order. The game remained tied at 0 through 8 innings.
Tito called upon his closer, Emmanuel Clase, to keep things tied in the 9th. And, you guessed it, he did just that, paving the way for the Guardians to walk it off all the way to New York for a matchup with the Yankees in the ALDS.
But... the Rays pitching staff had other plans. Drew Rasmussen struck out Rosario looking and got Ramirez to ground out to second. With Naylor coming to the plate, Cash went to the pen once again to get Cleavinger who did his job, striking out Naylor to send this game to the 10th scoreless.
With a new inning, came another Guardians pitcher. This time, Nick Sandlin was on. Ji Man Choi walked to start the inning. Vidal Brujan would pinch run for Choi and Walls would pinch hit for Isaac Paredes. After failing to get down a sacrifice bunt, Walls would strike out as Brujan advanced to second with a stolen base. With a the go-ahead runner standing just 180 feet away and two outs to work with, it was up to Manuel Margot and Francisco Mejia. Margot grounded out, advancing Brujan to third. After retiring Margot, Sandlin would leave injured and give way to Eli Morgan.
Mejia, in his first at bat of the day, lined out to center and the game remained tied at 0.
In the bottom of the tenth, Cleavinger would remain in the game and strike out the side in dominating fashion.
Garrett Cleavinger, K'ing the Side.— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) October 8, 2022
And K Scream. pic.twitter.com/lL1tqErsgH
On to the top of the 11th... Siri, Yandy, and Wander were retired in order...again. On to the bottom half.
Shawn Armstrong was called upon by Cash to keep the Rays season alive. With one out, Staw lined an opposite field single. He represented the winning run.
With the top of the Guardians lineup due, Armstrong struck out Kwan and Rosario to keep this game tied. Because, of course he did.
Just in case you were wondering how things were going for both teams:
29 strikeouts in this game. And Cleveland has more than the Rays.— DRaysBay (@draysbay) October 8, 2022
As both teams marched sluggishly towards the 12th inning, Randy Arozarena was due to lead off. De Los Santos represented the Guardians 7th pitcher.
For the first time in the series, Arozarena made it to first base courtesy of a leadoff walk. Up next was Harold Ramirez. He grounded to second but beat out a double play and remained at first with one out. After Brujan popped out to center, Walls dropped a ball into the outfield just off the glove of Rosario for a base hit. With a chance to give the Rays their first lead since Siri’s homer in game one, Margot grounded out to third baseman Jose Ramirez who made an outstanding play with the help of Naylor at first.
The pattern of scoreless half innings would repeat until the bottom of the 15th when Oscar Gonzalez sent everyone home with a walkoff bomb.
After all of that, it was over. The Guardians were heading to the ALDS and the Rays were heading home with a disappointing end to their season surely on their minds.
The Rays ended the year on a 7 game losing streak during which they scored a total of 9 runs. Hopefully that streak ends on next opening day... until then thanks for reading all season long.