The Rays headed out on the road, because apparently the folks who planned this schedule thought it would be nicer in Washington DC in April than in a lovely temperate dome, but hey, I’m not an expert on weather, that’s Mike Trout’s job.
It seemed like a pretty nice night in the nation’s capital, and the Rays’ bats were probably bringing a fair bit of that heat.
The scoring started early, with Arozarena reaching on a two-out single, followed by a Raley home run to bring him in, putting the Rays up 2-0 in the top of the first. The Nationals’ bats were quiet in the bottom of the inning, but the Rays weren’t done as the second rolled around. Josh Lowe reached on an infield single, then things just collapsed for the Nats’ defense as Margot beat an infield single to the plate that eventually evolved into a nasty error ultimately when the National’s pitcher Williams attempted to make a toss to first that resulted in first baseman Smith losing his glove altogether and letting the ball get by him, allowing Margot to advance safely to second and Lowe to third. Mejia hit a sac fly to bring Lowe home.
Things were quiet and steady through the third, but to kick off the top of the fourth, Paredes walloped a 404-foot solo home run, giving the Rays a nice 4-0 lead. That’s a lot of fours, that has to be lucky somehow. If four is your lucky number go buy a lottery ticket.
The game continued scoreless for several more innings, with starter Drew Rasmussen going six complete innings before giving way to the bullpen in the seventh. He continued the pitching trend we saw over the weekend of a strong, deep starter showing, going 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, and 7 K on a very efficient 66 pitches.
The Nats took their opportunity with reliever Cleavinger in the bottom of the seventh, first sending a pretty scary comebacker in his direction that must have left him a little uneasy. First Candelario reached on an error from Brandon Lowe, then Smith reached on an infield single. Both advanced on a Ruiz groundout, and then a Thomas groundout brought Candelario home. As he reached first on an error it was not considered an earned run, but Cleavinger didn’t look confident. A wild pitch advanced Smith to third and then Abrams walked. That was it for Cleavinger who could even make it through the inning, giving way to Adam. Adam came on and got the final out of the inning, so the Nats would need to settle for one.
Two outs into the top of the eighth and Raley did it yet again, this time with a solo shot.
Heading into the bottom of the eighth it would be up to Faucher to get the last six outs of the game. He made short work of the eighth, and the Rays decided to just go for broke in the top of the ninth. Paredes and Josh Lowe got back-to-back singles, then Margot hit a sac fly (that was very nearly out, caught beautifully by Robles) to score Paredes. And then in a pick-off attempt to second the ball rolled away to centerfield letting Lowe advance to third. The Rays would need to settle for the one extra run, but lol at a second base pick-off attempt.
Faucher was back out for the bottom of the ninth, and gave up a leadoff solo home run to Candelario. With one out, Faucher then nailed Ruiz in the ribs with an inside pitch. Ow. The Rays managed to get out of the jam with Faucher on the mound, ending with a flyout to Raley.
Have a night Luke.
Final: Rays 6, Nationals 2