In this series win against the Diamondbacks, the Rays were on the wrong side of one blowout; eked out a win in the second game; and coasted comfortably to victory in the third.
The Rays were quick to get to Diamondbacks rookie starter Brandon Pfaadt. Wander Franco singled (but was thrown out trying to steal — a perfect throw got him in case you were tempted to complain about the attempt), and the Nuke Raley followed with a solo home run to give the Rays a 1-0 lead.
Meanwhile opener Zach Littell pitched two scoreless innings, ending the second by striking out Evan Longoria with a runner on third base.
The best team in the majors got some good swings in the third. Vidal Brujan doubled, the Cuban God of Walks did his thing, and then Wander Franco brought them both home with a hit to the nether reaches of deep right field. Franco turned on the burners to get to third.
Wander wheels in a few more ♂️ pic.twitter.com/80qfADFruZ— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) June 29, 2023
He in turn was driven in by Harold “I lost my contacts” Ramirez. A 4-0 lead and there were still no outs.
Hit batter, walk and a Josh Lowe single and it’s 6-0, still no outs, and rookie Pfaadt’s day was over. He is a highly ranked prospect and, like our Taj Bradley, is likely to have a few starts like this until he figures things out. His replacement was able to get the next three outs. That would be all the runs the Rays got this afternoon, and fortunately it was all they needed.
In bottom of the third inning our bulk guy, Yonny Chirinos, took the mound, hoping to rebound from a rough previous outing. And rebound he did. I would not call him dominant — he gave up seven hits, he walked three, and hit a batter over six innings (he pitched from the third through the eighth, and started the ninth but left with no outs and two runners on). Eleven runners over six innings is a lot of activity; inducing two double plays certainly helped. But given his performance in his last outing, this “bend but don’t break” Chirinos is definitely an improvement.
Robert Stephenson came on in the ninth to get those last three outs.
There as a lot of Evan Longoria content in today’s broadcast, and I for one really enjoyed it. Doug Waechter, a former teammate, talked about how Longo’s approach at the plate has remained consistent, and remembered how gracefully he played third, in particularly his ability to charge in for softly hit balls. It’s been a long time since he was a Ray, but Longoria still seems so central to the Rays story. Hearing those opening bars of Down and Out still gives me those “something great is about to happen” chills.
For those watching the television broadcast, it was painful hearing Dewayne Staats struggle to overcome a bad sore throat and carry out his play by play duties. After three innings he departed, replaced by Andy Freed who left Neil to carry on in the radio booth. I guess there is no “taxi squad” for back-up broadcasters.