Despite the injuries and challenges, this Tampa Bay Rays team is still very good.
They continue to be on pace for another postseason run after today’s 7-3 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays.
The Rays did not waste a lot of time to get the offense going. Harold Ramirez and Ji-Man Choi hit back-to-back singles with two outs to get Ramirez into scoring position. The inning should have ended on Isaac Paredes’ grounder to third but a throwing error by Matt Chapman allowed him to reach safely and allowed Ramirez to score.
The Blue Jays tried to strike back in the bottom of the first. They loaded the bases on Shane Baz after a walk to Bo Bichette, a single to Vladimir Guerrero Jr, and a walk to Teoscar Hernandez with one out. Yeah, this is where it was easy to feel like things could fall apart quickly for the Rays. Instead, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. grounded into a double play to end the inning. Taylor Walls made an incredible athletic play to place the tag on Hernandez and make the throw to Choi to get the second out at first. This is the level of Rays defense that we have come to expect and have missed recently.
4-3 double plays don't get much more impressive than this pic.twitter.com/Nh9Tm5RQWb— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 3, 2022
The Rays continued to enjoy a one-run lead until the bottom of the third inning. George Springer hit a double to leadoff the inning and advanced to third on a Bichette groundout. The Rays brought the infield in which meant there was no chance to make a play on a sharp ground ball by Vlad Jr. scoring Springer and tying the game 1-1.
HIGHLIGHT: Vlad Jr.'s RBI single— Blue Jays PBP (@BlueJaysPBP) July 3, 2022
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. laces a single to left field, driving in George Springer to tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the 3rd inning
The top of the fifth was like a hitting potluck with everyone bringing a hot bat instead of a hot dish. Taylor Walls led off with a double that was just shy of being a lead off home run. Walls scored at-bats later on a Yandy Diaz single, though, Diaz was tagged out at second. The all skate continued with a Harold “Barreled” Ramirez following a Wander Franco single with a two-run home run.
Ji-Man Choi made it back-to-back jacks.
Isaac Paredes continued the buffet of hits with a single to right field. Next, Randy Arozarena made it three home runs for the inning with a two-run shot to center field to extend the Rays lead to 7-1.
Randy Arozarena - Tampa Bay Rays (8)— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) July 3, 2022
The offense was impressive and so was the pitching performance from Shane Baz. He overcame the early struggle and bases loaded in the first inning to finish with 6.0 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB and 7 K on 94 pitches. He’s now allowed two runs or fewer in seven of his eight career starts with plenty of upside in his development.
Shane Baz, Dirty 81mph Curveball...and Sword. ⚔️ pic.twitter.com/HT1e5siP6s— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 3, 2022
Cristofer Ogando made his major league debut in the bottom of the seventh inning after a long journey. George Springer was the first batter he faced and unfortunately the first batter he walked. Bichettw was his first out. For his first strikeout, he got one of the game’s best hitters in Guerrero Jr. He finished his debut with 2.0 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB and 1 K on 42 pitches. The lone run was a Matt Chapman sacrifice fly in the eighth inning that scored Guerriel Jr.
Not all players have the same developmental journey, and Cristofer Ogando is the perfect example of that. After signing as an international free agent at the start of 2013 and then being released at the end of that same season, Ogando did not give up on the dream. pic.twitter.com/X2qDjpuiHw— Rays Player Development (@RaysPlayerDev) July 3, 2022
This game got a little too exciting in the ninth inning as the Blue Jays would not go quietly into the night. Shawn Armstrong was on the mound for the Rays facing Guerrero Jr. with two runners on and one out. Guerrero Jr. hit a RBI-double scoring Biggio and trimming the Rays lead to 7-3. After walking Teoscar Hernandez to load the bases Armstrong was pulled and Jason Adam entered the game. What was a large lead was now one swing away from being all tied up.
Adam did not disappoint on the eve of July 4th by getting Guerriel Jr. and Alejandro Kirk to both strike out swinging to end the game and secure the series win for the Rays.
The Rays look to extend the win streak tomorrow at 1:35pm ET in Boston.