On the 39th anniversary of the Pine Tar Game, the Rays looked to lock up a series win against the Royals. In the return game of Jeffrey Springs, the Rays rolled out a Spring Training split squad lineup. I’m sure it will work out.
Springs is back as we hope to spring back pic.twitter.com/QjnENNrt7g— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 24, 2022
Kris Bubic got the start for the Royals.
The Royals drew first blood in the first inning, going up 1-0. Merrifield led off with the double when his hot shot deflected off shortstop Walls’ glove and rolled softly into center. After a Benintendi ground out, Whit scored as Witt singled the other way to drive in the run.
The Royals added an unearned run in the second. Michael A. Taylor reached on a strike out/passed ball, then went to third on a single to right by Emanuel Rivera. He scored when Nick Pratto lined out to deep(ish) center.
The Rays got on the board in the third, when Yandy Díaz turned around a 2-2 middle-middle fastball and hit it out to straight away center.
The Royals rallied in the bottom of the third, putting runners on second and third with one out. But with the infield in, Pasquantino smacked a hard grounder that Walls was able to snag and keep the runners in place.
Just in case anyone thinks this game is easy: the time between bat and glove on this play was less than two-thirds of a second pic.twitter.com/HB5EFsotp1— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 24, 2022
Josh Lowe then flagged down Taylor’s drive to right to end the threat.
The Royals again threatened in the fourth, when Rivera and Pratto led off with a pair of singles. But the Rays caught a break when Cam Gallagher’s bunt attempt was popped up, resulting in a 1-4 double play. Merrifield then grounded out to end the inning.
Springs finally retired the leadoff man in the fifth. Unfortunately, Nicky Lopez roped a one out triple into the right field corner, ending Springs day. 4.1 inning, 7 hits, 2 runs (1 earned), no walks, 2 strikeouts.
Ryan Thompson came on and, with the infield in, got Dozier to hit it to Walls. Lopez was retired in a rundown, with Dozier taking second. Thompson then got Pasquantino to ground to second to end the inning.
The Rays evened the score in the sixth. Diaz led off with a double to right, and advanced to third on an infield single by Arozarena. Luke Raley got him home on a long sac fly to left.
The seventh inning was the ballgame, with the Rays missing a scoring chance and the Royals cashing in. In the top of the frame, the Rays put the first two runners on with a Bethancourt walk and a Josh Lowe single to left. But the Royals turned the play of the game when Chang hit a rocket that was ticketed for the left field corner. But Rivera at third made a sensational diving grab, calmly tapped third, and threw to second to complete the double play.
Walls then grounded to third to end the inning.
Kansas City retook the lead in the bottom of the seventh against Brooks Raley. Merrifield singled to right and Nicky Lopez reached on an infield single. It was an unfortunate play where Taylor Walls should probably cover second instead of cutting in front of Chang and trying to make the play himself. If he covers second, Chang fields it easily and flips to Walls for the force. Merrifield then scored on a Dozier lined single to center.
The Royals tacked on a run in the bottom of the eighth against Shawn Armstrong. Taylor led off with an infield single, then moved to second on a Rivera ground out to third. Armstrong struck out Pratto, but gave up a run scoring double to Melendez.
Bobby Witt Jr. was pulled to start the second after looking a little gimpy following a stolen base. He was replaced by Nicky Lopez.
Bobby Witt Jr. was removed from today's game as a precaution with right hamstring tightness. He is day-to-day.— Kansas City Royals (@Royals) July 24, 2022
I really like this non-sucking version of Ryan Thompson. He did a great job, getting out of a jam in the fifth, and working a scoreless sixth that included starting a 1-4-3 double play.
Not that it mattered, but the shot hit by Chang in the seventh probably should have been a triple play.
The Rays travel to Baltimore to play the Orioles, where Corey Kluber squares off against Austin Voth. Game time is 7:05 PM.