Today’s win felt like a sigh of relief. Everything worked well. Long ball, small ball. Starting pitching, relief pitching.
The Rays offense got into gear in the second inning. Arozarena and Paredes started the inning with a solo home run each. The Rays got two other men on base on an infield error and a walk, with the runners moving up on a fly ball. With the infield in, Jose Siri was able to tap the ball back to the pitcher. Margot, the lead runner, was running on contact and scored, and when the pitcher threw the ball away, Taylor Walls was able to score as well.
Tampa Bay scored again in the seventh, when Siri singled, moved to third on a Diaz single and scored on a very shallow fly ball to center. The broadcasters were noting that the Rays seemed quite willing to challenge the arm of Aaron Hicks, now playing centerfield for the Orioles, and with Siri’s speed it wasn’t even close.
Arozarena drove in the next run with a single, for the Rays sixth run and Randy’s 50th RBI.
The team added a final insurance run in the 8th. Margot opened with a base hit, and Jose Siri walked! This was just his 12th walk of the season, and I had just responded to a challenge by offering to make a $10 donation to Walk/Bike Tampa for any Siri walk, so I was thrilled to see him take his base, but I’m also out $10. Diaz drove home Margot to make the score 7-1.
Meanwhile, the run suppression part of the plan was going well. Taj Bradley was very effective. He gave up one run, just three hits, and got through six innings. He struck out eight and walked none. He was about as good as one could hope against a team with some good offensive numbers.
And the Rays got nine outs from three relievers, Colin Poche, Kevin Kelly, and Zach Littell. Littell’s outs came after a leadoff ninth inning Baltimore home run, but altogether Baltimore got just two runs and four hits. It helped that Rays pitchers gave up no walks, because of course it’s not the home runs, it’s the walks before the home runs.
A great team effort. Four pitchers threw well; the seven runs were batted in by five different hitters. This is the 2023 Rays team we’ve come to love.