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Rays 11 Dodgers 10: Luke Raley’s speed on both sides of the ball secures series win

Los Angeles Dodgers v Tampa Bay Rays Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images

Normally in these recaps, we try to review the highlights, usually with a sentence or two, maybe even a paragraph, on each run scored.

Well with a final score of 11 to 10, you will probably understand why I’m not doing a hit by hit, or a run by run recap.

The Dodgers starter, Gavin Stone, is the Dodgers number four prospect. With a 70 grade change up and decent fastball, slider and curve, he’s projected as a mid-rotation starter, but his first look at major league hitters has not been encouraging. In two starts before today he had pitched eight innings with a 10.13 ERA.

So we knew that the Rays had a good shot at scoring a few runs.

On the other side, the Rays were riding with Josh Fleming. Fleming had had good results in his last two appearances, but he’s also had some real stinkers this year. With LA’s strong lineup, the odds were good that the Dodgers could get a few runs on the board too.

But could anyone have anticipated 15 runs in the first three innings?

The Rays seemed to have the upper hand at first, getting out to a 7-3 lead after two, and ending Gavin Stone’s outing. That seemed like a pretty safe lead, but it wasn’t, as the Dodgers countered with their own four-run inning. The Rays scored a few more for what seemed like perhaps a safe-ish 10-7 lead, but it was not safe, as the Dodgers managed to tie it before Fleming was removed after six innings.

And while there were some errors and a few sac flies, for the most part these weren’t lucky hits: there were 17 balls hit at over 100 mph in the first six innings.

Given the shape of the Rays bullpen, it was clear that Fleming was going to be throwing more than a few innings. “Fortunately” I guess many Dodgers hits came on first pitches, so Fleming was oddly enough pretty efficient for a guy who gave up 10 runs (eight earned). It “helped” that five of those runs were on solo homeruns!

I was a bit bemused to see many of our fans wonder why Cash stuck with Fleming for 6 miserable innings, 83 pitches. My friends, have you seen our bullpen? Yes, Beeks and Adam stepped up today — more on that later — but how many of the Rays losses have been due to bullpen failures, including the loss just a day earlier? Sadly, thanks to injuries, I think there will be days when there are just no great pitching options.

Let’s consider some highs and lows of this game.

On the plus side, the Rays managed two hustle infield hits as Luke Raley and Brandon Lowe legged out grounders and were safe when Dodgers infielders were less than crisp in their fielding. Raley would come around to score after managing that hit, so his turning on the jets was quite significant. As others have noted, Luke Raley actually has pretty great speed, which is hard to pick up because he looks like he’s running through mud in oversized galoshes. Maybe Freddie Freeman, playing first for the Dodgers, was fooled into thinking he had more time to field that ball.

On the down side, there were some defensive miscues. Jose Siri, usually a sure thing in center, flubbed two catches, the first for a double and the second for a two-base error. Brandon Lowe also had an inexplicable throwing error.

But again looking at the positives, our ungainly Luke Raley, in contrast, was a wizard on defense. He robbed a hit in the first inning, and then did this, which maybe didn’t rob a home run but it came close:

Finally, in contrast to what we’ve seen too often in Rays games, it was the bullpen that saved the day for the Rays, throwing three scoreless innings to preserve first the tie and then the win. Beeks pitched the seventh, and Adam pitched a very strong eighth inning, with Pete Fairbanks warming up to take the ninth.

Suddenly, however, Pete wasn’t warming and the broadcast caught him walking — limping? — to the dugout with the trainer. Adam came out to pitch a second inning, something he has rarely done. But he was great, striking out two and ending the game on a weak popup. My colleague Ben Whitelaw has some thoughts on Adam:

Of course this still leaves a ton of questions — what is up with Fairbanks? With Adam no doubt unavailable for maybe two days who pitches in any other close game?

But for today, we have a win after a crazy back and forth game, a series win against a “real team”, a team closing in on 40 wins in May, an offense that is still clicking, and the knowledge that at some point during the week, Shane McClanahan will get the ball (no pressure Shane).

Finally, on the broadcast: If you were able to watch the Peacock broadcast, you got to hear our very own Brian Anderson alongside Orel Hersheier and play by play announcer Brendan Burke. I thought the three of them sounded great together, with deep knowledge of both teams and of baseball in general. They even all seemed to know they were in St. Petersburg and not Tampa. Rather than just complain about the dome, Burke asked Anderson some questions about how players adjusted to it, making it a point of information rather than a point of derision. Yes, it’s annoying for those of us who pay for Bally to have to have other streaming services to catch our own team’s games, but at least we weren’t further insulted with a poor quality broadcast.