Apparently, the Tampa Bay Rays can win a close game. The Rays pulled off a 4-3 extra innings win over the Pittsburgh Pirates. Tonight’s game makes it 10 straight games for the Rays decided by 2 runs or fewer and the Rays are 3-7 in the stretch.
Jeffrey Springs was the starter for the Rays and he was looking to bounce back from his poor performance against the Baltimore Orioles last week. Things got off to a good start against the Pirates as he was dominant through the first three innings allowing only one baserunner from a first-inning single to Michael Chavis.
Offensively, the Rays got off to a slower start getting retired in order in the first inning. In the second inning, the Rays offense seemed primed and ready to provide the offensive support to secure a victory and give Pirates starter Mitch Keller a rough time. Josh Lowe got things started with a single to left field and advanced to second on a stolen base. Luke Raley followed with a RBI-single to center field. The Rays momentum kept rolling with a Taylor Walls walk that brought Jonathan Aranda to the plate in his MLB-debut.
You always remember your first hit and Aranda did not waste anytime to get his first hit with a RBI-single to right field that scored Raley. Walls would score on a balk from Keller and the Rays suddenly had a 3-0 lead in a game that felt very one-sided, though, recent history including their last game on Wednesday has proven that three runs are not enough for the Rays to win and a 3-0 lead can be erased quickly by opposing batters.
Hope springs eternal except in the fourth and fifth innings tonight for the Rays.
In the fourth inning Springs started finding his changeup landing over the heart of the plate and the Pirates took full advantage. First, Michael Chavis hit a solo homer to left (101 mph, 386 feet, 33 degrees) off a Springs changeup. Two at-bats later Diego Castillo also turned a Springs’ changeup into a fan souvenir with a solo homer of his own (107 mph, 411 feet, 30 degrees) and just like that the Rays lead was trimmed to 3-2. Thankfully, despite allowing back-to-back singles, no more runs were added in the fourth.
The finalization of the blown lead came in the fifth inning. Hoy Park took a first-pitch fastball and launched it over the right center wall to tie the game. Springs allowed three earned runs for the third time this season but when it happens in back-to-back games it is something to watch.
Hoy Park completes the hat trick of solo homers for the Bucs!— AT&T SportsNet™ PIT (@ATTSportsNetPIT) June 25, 2022
Jeffrey Springs had allowed 5 HR in 54 IP coming into tonight...and the @Pirates now have 3 of of him in 5 Innings tonight.
We're tied as Mitch Keller heads to the hill in the bottom of the 5th on @ATTSportsNetPIT pic.twitter.com/fAsUXvXMGJ
In the sixth inning, Springs returned to the mound and only allowed a hit to Oneil Cruz on a single to center field. He finished with 6.0 IP allowing 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, and 3 HR on 102 pitches.
The battle of the bullpens commenced through the ninth inning.
Chris Stratton entered the game in the seventh inning for the Pirates and made all the Rays batters walk the plank back to the dugout. Stratton retired all six hitters he faced in order and struck out three.
Matt Wisler and Colin Poche pitched the seventh and eighth respectively for the Rays and matched Stratton’s results. Wisler struck out two and Poche struck out one in two clean innings for the Rays defense.
Things got a little shaky when Brooks Raley started the ninth inning by hitting Castillo with a pitch and putting the go-ahead runner on for the Pirates. The stage was set for another disappointing close game to get away from the Rays but three consecutive strikeouts later and Raley prevented the mistake from being costly.
Anthony Banda retired the Rays in order in the bottom of the ninth sending the game into extra innings.
Jason Adam pitched the tenth inning for the Rays. Park hit a leadoff single that advanced Tyler Heineman to third base with no outs. Adam got Jack Suwinski to strikeout swinging and then Bryan Reynolds to pop out to Yandy Diaz in foul territory to put two outs on the board and reduce the risk of the runner at third. Adam closed out the inning by striking out Chavis to keep the game tied into the bottom of the 10th.
Vidal Brujan was the free runner on second for the Rays in the 10th inning as Yerry De Los Santos came in to pitch for the Pirates. After Francisco Mejia popped out for the first out, Harold Ramirez came in as a pinch hitter for Brett Phillips. Brujan stole third with a perfectly timed jump. Just like that this game started to feel like the Rays might pull it off. Ramirez erased all doubt on a sharp ground ball to left field for the walkoff single to win the game 4-3. The hit was his third career walkoff hit.
Harold was in this game for about a minute before he ended it pic.twitter.com/wPAIO13wPI— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 25, 2022
Despite all the injuries this team continues to play competitive games. Tonight, the outcome was in the Rays favor in the first of 13 straight days with a game.
Tomorrow at 1:10pm ET the Rays look to win the series with Corey Kluber (3-4, 3.46) on the mound against JT Brubaker (1-7, 4.11) for the Pirates.