Wander Franco delivers walk off dinger after bullpen blows three-run lead in 9th
Do any Rays wins lately come without drama?
The usually-formidable bullpen crumbled in the 9th inning as Pete Fairbanks and Robert Stevenson combined to blow a three-run, come-from-behind lead in the ninth inning that forced the Rays to bat in the bottom half of then inning.
Fairbanks’ command betrayed him, walking two batters and hitting one to load the bases, and walking another to plate the second run off the frame.
Robert Stephenson then entered and threw a wild pitch to knot the score at 8-8.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, however, Wander Franco didn’t waste any time. On the third pitch from Guardians right-handed reliever Nick Sandlin, “El Patrón” lived up to his nickname, “The Man”, by depositing a hanging slider into the right field seats that set off full-blown pandemonium for a celebration at home plate.
What led to the comeback was a Rays offense that showed signs of life and fight.
From the third inning, the Rays responded to a 1-0 Guardians lead with a Yandy Diaz RBI single to even the score. Franco would deliver for the first time tonight with a two-run single of his own to give the Rays their first lead of the night.
In innings 4 and 6, respectively, the Guardians crawled back off of their former mate Adam Civale with a Steven Kwan triple and Myles Straw single to even the score again at 3. Andres Gimenez would single home Kwan to push Cleveland into the lead again, 4-3.
The Rays offense would swing back, as Issac Paredes homered in the bottom frame of the 6th, driving home Randy Arozarena with him to take the lead on the skyscraper of a home run (42-degree launch angle).
The Rays would plate two more in the 7th as a Gimenez fielding error would contribute to two more Rays runs, and Manuel Margot would plate another to push the Rays to the aforementioned three-run lead.
The Rays and Guardians are back at it tomorrow at 4:10, with the probable pitchers as Shane Bieber opposite Shawn Armstrong.