Not gonna lie, this recap was going to be about how much I hated the bullpen management, and how Cash clearly pissed off the baseball gods. But the Rays had other ideas, rallying and winning it in thrilling fashion in the bottom of the ninth.
Corey Kluber got the start today against J.T. Brubaker. And the Rays lineup? Well, it looked a little different, with Taylor Walls in the leadoff slot.
The Rays jumped out on top 2-0 in the first. Taylor Walls seemed to respond to moving to the top of the order, as he collected two hits on the day, including a single to start the Rays half of the first. After a Lowe ground out, Arozarena reached on a infield single in what would be the first of four hits on the day. A sharp groundout to first by Choi put runners on second and third. Both scored a Bruján’s soft flair to center that somehow found the ground.
Kluber was sharp through the first two, striking out four and giving up no baserunners. That changed when Diego Castillo (no, not that one) led off the third with a homer to left.
Still in the third, old friend Michael Perez followed with a single to center. He was bunted to second by Hoy Park, and eventually scored on a Bryan Reynolds single. Phillips had a great shot to get Perez at the plate, but he airmailed the throw home.
The Rays took the lead back in the bottom of the fifth. Josh Lowe hooked a one out double to right, and scored on a hustle double by Arozarena.
Randy puts us back on top pic.twitter.com/IfWzmpYJBI— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 25, 2022
Unfortunately, Randy got caught in between stealing and not stealing and was picked off. This was especially salty because Choi followed with an innocuous two out single instead of an RBI one out single. But we got the lead, right? Everything was gonna be okay.
Until it wasn’t.
Full disclosure: After the first two innings, Corey Kluber wasn’t overly sharp. He gave up a couple baserunners, and quite frankly got lucky with a few others. But his pitch count was well under control. And with the exception of Jalen Beeks, the bullpen was pretty gassed. So why — with one out in the sixth and no one on — was Kevin Cash coming to the mound to get the ball? Yes, yes, sure. There were three left handed hitters coming up. It was (or should have been) a soft landing spot for Beeks, who hadn’t pitched in a while. Still, it very much felt like Cash was inviting the wrath of the baseball gods.
The baseball gods seemed to be following along with my line of thinking, and they were not amused.
First, Beeks had no command. He walked Vogelbach, then fell behind Madris 3-0. Second, catwalks. Madris lifted a lazy fly to right that hit the B-ring and fell harmlessly in front of Lowe. Third, Jack Suwinski had a big Su-Wing and hit a bomb out to right.
JACK SUWINSKI HIT THIS BASEBALL 443 FT!!! pic.twitter.com/Aj0DtVMvXi— Pittsburgh Pirates (@Pirates) June 25, 2022
With the baseball gods wrath sated, Beeks got out of the sixth and worked a 1-2-3 seventh.
But just when you thought this wasn’t our day, little by little, and then all of a sudden, it was.
First, with two outs and Chase De Jong on for the Pirates, Isaac Paredes saw a hanging slider and did not miss it, hammering a missile out to left.
Oops, Isaac did it again pic.twitter.com/aecvNyzSd3— Tampa Bay Devil Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 25, 2022
The Pirates had their lights out closer David Bednar on to finish things, and while his command was a little sketchy, he fanned Lowe and got Randy to chop to third for the first two outs. But Ji-Man refused to bail out Bednar, and eventually drew a full count walk. Bruján followed, and followed the same template, drawing a five pitch walk. Aranda was next, called on to pinch hit for Raley. The rookie smoked an 0-1 curve back at Bednar, where it bounced off the pitcher’s glove and went for an infield single.
Down one run.
Who do you want in that situation?
Walk off! Rays walk off! 6-5 Rays walk off!
Okay, back up a second. I would be remiss if I did not mention the solid work done by Ralph Garza Jr., who worked two scoreless, striking out one while giving up a hit and an intentional walk. Sorry for some of the nasty insults I’ve hurled at you, Ralph. Not all the insults, but definitely some of them.
It’s another early afternoon game tomorrow as the Rays go for the sweep. Shane McClanahan will face Roansy Contreras.