The Tampa Bay Rays staged a thrilling late-inning rally to come out on top with a final score of 10-6. The game had all the intense moments that make baseball fun, including key hits, homeruns, and defensive plays.
The Rays wasted no time getting on the scoreboard in the top of the first inning. Yandy Diaz led off with a single to center field off Nationals’ pitcher Chad Kuhl. Brandon Lowe followed with another single to right field, moving Diaz to second. Randy Arozarena then hit a sharp fly ball just shy of the tall wall in right field, driving in Diaz for the first run of the game with a double. He knocked out a few pushups at second base as his power was incrementally short of a three-run homer.
Lowe scored in the next at-bat on a groundout from Wander Franco. A Luke Raley sacrifice fly to left field, bringing Arozarena home and giving the Rays a 3-0 lead to open the game.
In the bottom of the first, the Nationals responded with some offense of their own. After Lane Thomas grounded out to third baseman Taylor Walls for the first out, Joey Meneses drew a walk, and Jeimer Candelario followed with a single to left field, putting two runners on base. Dominic Smith then grounded out to first, advancing Meneses and Candelario. Alex Call came up big for the Nationals with a a RBI-single to left field, driving in two runs and cutting the Rays’ lead to 3-2. Michael Chavis added a single of his own, putting runners on first and second, but the Rays were able to escape the inning with a pop out from Riley Adams to end the threat.
The Rays kept the scoring going in the second when Jose Siri hit a solo home run to center field, extending their lead to 4-2. Not to be outdone, the Nationals quickly responded in the bottom of the second. Victor Robles led off with a single to right field, and CJ Abrams followed with a double left. Lane Thomas then also hit a double to left, driving in two runs and tying the game at 4-4.
The third inning saw both teams go scoreless and stop the bleeding, as both pitchers appearing to settle down and keeping the game tied.
Then came the bottom of the fourth. TheNationals took the lead for the first time in the game. Robles started the inning with a single to left field, and Abrams followed with another single to right field. Thomas then hit a single to center field, driving in Robles and giving the Nationals a 5-4 lead and ended Fleming’s night. He finished with 3.0 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB and 2 K on 71 pitches.
Rays starting pitchers produced a 0.39 ERA allowing only five runs in the first four games. Fleming’s 15.00 ERA did not follow suit after he allowed five in four innings. Yikes.
The Rays brought in Jalen Beeks to replace Fleming. Beeks made an immediate impact getting Meneses to hit into double play that was almost a triple play. At the end of four, Nationals led 5-4.
The game remained tight in the later innings, with both teams playing solid defense and keeping the score close. The Rays were retired in order in the top of the sixth and seventh innings as the Nationals turned to Erasmo Ramirez and Carl Edwards Jr. out of the bullpen.
The Nationals added a run in the bottom of the seventh as Call scored on a double from Luis Garcia to extend their lead to 6-4.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Rays started to show some hope. Diaz drew a one-out walk, giving the Rays a much needed baserunner. Brandon Lowe followed with a pop-out to first baseman Dominic Smith in foul territory for the second out. Just when the door was closing on the Rays chances for a winArozarena came through in the clutch, hitting a double allowing Diaz to score tying the game at 6-6. Franco then grounded out to shortstop CJ Abrams, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the 8th, the Rays brought in Ryan Thompson to replace Kevin Kelly. Thompson struck out Meneses for the first out, and proceeded to retire Candelario and Smith to complete the 1-2-3 inning keeping the game tied.
Luke Raley is really working his way to being a fan favorite. He wasted no timein the top of the ninth, hitting a solo homerun to left field, giving the Rays a 7-6 lead. Josh Lowe followed with a homerun of his own, a deep shot to right center field, extending the Rays lead to 8-6. Isaac Paredes drew a walk pinch-hitting for Bethancourt. Manuel Margot came in as a pinch-runner for Paredes and promptly stole second base. However, Margot was caught stealing third base on a pickoff play as he couldn’t stay on the bag sliding back into second. Despite that misstep the Rays were not done, as Walls hit a single to center field, and Siri followed with a double, advancing Walls to third. Diaz then delivered a game sealing three-run homerun on a line drive to left center field, scoring Walls and Siri and giving the Rays a commanding 10-6 lead.
In the bottom of the 9th, the Rays brought in Pete Fairbanks to replace Thompson on the mound. Fairbanks retired the Nationals in order to secure the Rays victory.
With the win, the Rays extend their winning streak to five games for the first 5-0 start in franchise history. It is still very early in the season but this team looks like it will be very exciting to watch.
Good thing we don’t have to wait long to see them in action as these two teams play again tomorrow at 1:05pm ET with Shane McClanahan taking the mound for the Rays opposite Patrick Corbin for the Nationals.