The highly anticipated series between the Rays and Rangers got off to a great start for the MLB-best Rays on Friday night, but the Rangers flipped the script Saturday to tie the series.
Rookie Taj Bradley took the mound for the Rays and faced off against former Rays starter, Nathan Eovaldi, who had been on a tear coming into this start. Bradley and Eovaldi traded scoreless frames in the first. But, in the top of the second inning, things quickly went sideways for the Rays.
Following a leadoff walk to Jonah Heim, Travis Janikowski grounded into what should have been a double play. However, Vidal Brujan started the play with a throw beyond Wander Franco’s reach. The ball rolled into foul territory past the third base bag allowing Heim to score all the way from first. After a one-out walk, Marcus Semien singled to load the bases. Then, Corey Seager doubled to extend the Rangers’ lead to 3-0.
After a scoreless third, Taj Bradley issued another lead off walk, this time to Janikowski. Duran followed with a RBI double. With two outs, Jalen Beeks got the call and promptly gave up a two run bomb to Corey Seager.
Taj Bradley’s line: (L, 4-3) 3.2 IP / 4 H / 5 R / 4 ER / 4 BB / 4 K
That line is a bit misleading and I would guess that it would look a bit different had the double play been turned in the second.
Nonetheless, the Rays offense had an answer in the bottom of the fourth as they plated four runs.
Luke Raley missed a three run bomb by about three feet and had to settle for an RBI single as he drove in Josh Lowe and advanced Arozarena to third. Later in the inning, Francisco Mejia hit his second bomb of the year down the right field line. The three run bomb cut the Rangers lead to just 6-4. In the blink of an eye, we had a game again.
Definitely not a cheapie from Frankie.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 10, 2023
It would've been a HR in 30 of 30 ballparks. pic.twitter.com/Iw2BlFOEpF
Jalen Beeks held the Rangers scoreless in the fifth and left with two outs in the sixth, giving way to Jose Lopez.
Lopez, making his MLB debut, inherited a runner on first and quickly loaded the bases. Then, Adolis Garcia hit a ground-rule double, scoring two and extending the Rangers lead to 8-4.
That score would hold despite the Rays threatening in the bottom of the seventh, but ultimately leaving the bases loaded. At the plate, the Rays tallied seven hits and struck out ten times.
Shane McClanahan gets the ball tomorrow in the rubber match as he looks for his tenth win and a sub 2.00 ERA.