In front of a crowd of 19,704 fans, the Rays dropped game one of the AL Wild Card series for the second consecutive year. A mixture of sloppy defense and lifeless offense allowed the Rangers to take the first game 4-0 and set up a chance to clinch the series tomorrow afternoon.
The Rays lineup included eight right-handed hitters and one switch hitter to go up against lefty Jordan Montgomery.
Ceremonial first pitches were thrown out by Randy Arozarena’s mother, who got the chance to see her son play in the big leagues for the first time, and recently inducted Hall of Famer Fred McGriff.
If you’re wondering where Randy Arozarena got his arm, this is it. Wow— Tricia Whitaker (@TriciaWhitaker) October 3, 2023
What a moment.
Randy Arozarena’s mom throws out the first pitch after getting her visa last week to watch her son play in the majors for the first time ever. pic.twitter.com/tSEb8r93II
The poor fielding began early, with Yandy Díaz misplaying a ball and then struggling to get the throw to Tyler Glasnow, but the Rangers couldn’t take advantage of the opportunity. Their first run came in the second on a sac fly from Josh Jung, scoring Nathaniel Lowe.
The Rays threatened in the third, getting runners on the corners with just one out, but a great defensive play from Montgomery on a bad bunt from Jose Siri saved a run.
Glasnow ran into some trouble in the fifth, allowing a leadoff double to Corey Seager on a play that Rays fans may expect Siri to make in center. He then walked Robbie Grossman, and allowed a single to Adolis García that went off the back of his leg at over 100 mph. Only one of those runs came into score, and it was Seager on a wild pitch. Glasnow struck out Leody Taveras and Jung to end the inning and at this point I think a lot of us expected his night to be over with him sitting at 89 pitches.
Kevin Cash opted to send Glasnow back out for the sixth, but he was pulled after he quickly walked the first two batters. Chris Devenski was the first arm out of the bullpen, and to be honest it felt like the Rays were waving the white flag here. Devenski gave up just one hit over two innings, but two runs came in to score on the play after Siri made a mess of it in center field.
The Rays lineup never got going against Montgomery, who pitched a great game, and by the time Bruce Bochy turned the ball over to Aroldis Chapman in the eighth, the game was practically over.
Zach Eflin will take the mound tomorrow with the season on the line, and hopefully he does so in front of a larger crowd and in a better atmosphere. If not, the 99-win Rays may be two-and-out for the second straight year.