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(Devil) Rays 3, Yankees 1: Klubot and the pen dominate

Great pitching, (mostly) good defense, just enough hitting, and a smile from the baseball gods

New York Yankees v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

On a Devil Ray day in St. Pete, Tampa Bay pitchers held the New York bats in check and allowed for the offense to do just enough damage to eek out a 3-1 win.

With Corey Klubor on the hill for the Devil Rays, the DRays shook up the lineup a bit, moving Cole-killer Ji-Man Choi into the two hole.

The Yankees broke on top 1-0 in the first, thanks in part to a DJ LeMahieu double to the wall in right that Brett Phillips probably would like to have again, and a weak throw on a sac fly to medium center by Rizzo that Kevin Kiermaier definitely would like to have back. Thankfully this was not a precursor to another rough night in the field. Phillips got the ship going in the right direction before the inning was over, snaring a liner by Torres and then doubling off Judge.

Klubot settled in nicely after that. He also got some more help from his friends, with a nice play by Walls in the second, and a nifty double play turn by Franco in the third. But also made a ton of good pitches, including striking out the side in order in the fourth.

Meanwhile, Cole cruised through a hitless front four, with a walk to Yandy his only blemish. Finally, Mejía grounded a two out single to center to break up the no no. But Phillips struck out, cutting short any real rally.

Kluber continued to pitch well through the middle innings, retiring the side in order in the fifth and sixth.

With two outs in the sixth and Cole cruising, Choi worked a walk on a borderline pitch, leaving Cole visible and vocally upset. Of note: There were a lot of 50/50 balls all day that were inconsistently called by the home plate umpire for both teams. But this one in particular seemed to push Cole off his game, as he walked the next hitter, Wander Franco, on four pitches, none of which were close. Then, a 1-1 count, Arozarena lobbed a low and away breaking ball into shallow left, scoring Choi.

1-1 Tie game!

Kluber was done after six: three hits, one run, five strikeouts, zero walks. JP Feyereisen took over and worked through the meat of the order, recording two strikeouts in a clean seventh.

Cole was also done after six: two hits, one run, ten strikeouts, and three walks. Lucas Luetge got the call. Kiermaier led off with a single, followed by a pop up up the right field line that no Yankee was able to gather in, putting Devil Rays on second and third.

Oh but it’s never easy for these Rays, Devil or no. Because into this prime scoring chance entered the contact play. Pinch hitter Harold Ramírez tapped to the best fielding first baseman in the game, Anthony Rizzo, who nailed KK by plenty. Even worse, Mejía held at second, because … I don’t know. Reasons.

But hope springs eternal! New pitcher Michael King rolled up a double play ball, but Walls beat out the return throw by busting it out of the box, to the tune of 29.9 feet per second. To put that in perspective, that’s between Trea Turner and Julio Rodriguez. So with runners at the corners, Diaz who hit a high chop to third for an infield single, scoring Mejía.

2-1 Devil Rays!

Jason Adam got the eighth and worked a scoreless frame, giving up just a two out single to Kiner-Falefa in front of a sliding Margot in left.

I sure would feel better with a little insurance. Leading off the bottom of the eighth, Franco jumped on the first pitch from King and ripped it up the right field line. Smelling triple all the way, Wander’s quads and hammies looked just fine as he flew around the bases and slid safely into third.

After Arozarena grounded to short, Manuel Margot lined a single to right, scoring Wander.

3-1 Devil Rays!

Colin Poche got the ninth and worked a clean inning.

Devil Rays win!

The two teams hook up again tomorrow at 1:40 PM as the Rays go for the split. Shane McClanahan will go against Luis Severino.