The Rays get a lot of flack about Tropicana Field and its dome, but there’s one vital thing to remember about the dome... it is never below 70 degrees in there. You don’t need hand-warmer fanny packs, or full-faced beanies... balaclavas... I don’t even know what to call those things.
All of this to say it was a very, very cold April evening in Chicago, and that was obvious on the field.
Shane McClanahan, who actually went with short sleeves, bless his heart, was the Rays’ starter for the night and actually had another really solid outing. He had one bad moment in the second that set the game in the Cubs’ favor early, but overall he did really well.
So let’s take a look at it inning-by-inning shall we?
In the top of the first Brandon Lowe drew a leadoff walk, but Kyle Hendricks was the best he’s been all season and put the next three batters down in order. McClanahan returned the favor in the bottom of the inning, setting the Cubs down 1-2-3.
The second started the same for the Rays, with nary a baserunner to be seen. The bottom of the inning started with what should have been a relatively easy out on Suzuki, but he was able to reach with a bobbled catch by Choi. The error was credited to Walls, but watching it I’m not really sure he was to blame. I blame the cold. Then Wisdom hit an absolute no-doubt home run to the outfield bleachers to bring two runs in. McClanahan had a little bad luck and it just went as badly as it possibly could.
The third saw the Rays set down 1-2-3 again. In the bottom of the inning Madrigal singled, then stole second on a wild pitch. Thankfully it wouldn’t burn the Rays, as no runs scored.
To kick off the top of the fourth Josh Lowe singled, then stole second. Choi got a one-out single to score Lowe, putting the Rays on the board. Diaz singled, but no additional runs scored. McClanahan got his own 1-2-3 in the bottom of the fourth, but not without a little drama. Technically Suzuki singled to start the bottom half, but he tried to stretch it to a double and overslid the base. Arozarena was able to keep the tag on, and Suzuki was ruled out after replay review. (I’m not going to lie, I thought the tag slipped off and it should have been overturned, but I am not mad about how it turned out for the Rays.)
Hometown hero Brett Phillips singled to start the fifth inning, then successfully stole second. Walls walked to follow. Josh Lowe singled, scoring Phillips. Unfortunately, Arozarena hit into a double play to end the inning. McClanahan had another shutout inning at the bottom of the fifth. The score was tied 2-2 going into the sixth.
Diaz got a one-out single in the top of the sixth, but got caught stealing second, and the Rays got no other baserunners for the inning. Madrigal got a single for the Cubs in the bottom of the inning, but Contreras grounded into a double play to erase the baserunner. No luck for the Cubs. The sixth would mark the end of the night for McClanahan, and what a night. His final line was 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER (Suzuki being on base was ruled an E6), 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR on 80 pitches.
Walls drew a two-out walk in the seventh, but a B. Lowe pop-up ended things, and made him very angry at his helmet. Poor helmet. Adam was on in relief for the bottom of the seventh and manage to hit Suzuki with a pitch to lead off the inning, and man I have never heard a crowd get that angry that fast outside the Bronx. Vilar walked to put two on. Adam continued to have limited control of his pitches, throwing inside and up a fair bit, and after facing the minimum, the call to the bullpen went to Springs. Happ got a two-out single to score Suzuki. Springs was able to get out of the jam eventually and the run was credited to Adam. Cubs left the inning up 3-2.
The Rays did nothing in the top of the eighth. Guerra was the man on the mound in the bottom of the inning. A Schwindel solo bomb gave the Cubs an even further lead. Then with two outs Suzuki got a single. An obviously fair ball was then ruled foul, killing a good chance for the Rays to end the inning. Thankfully they ended it on the next batter, but onto the ninth the Rays would have one last chance to win it.
Zunino drew a two-out walk, and Margot came in to pinch-hit. Unfortunately, it ended with Zunino stranded on first.
Final: Cubs 4, Rays 2