If you just see the score for this game you’d probably think it was a no doubter, but in fact this game was close — and indeed the Rays were on the losing end — until the eighth inning.
You can either say the Rays got off to a quick start, going ahead 1-0 in the first. Or that they got off to a disappointing start, because they had the bases loaded with no outs and all they had to show for it was one lousy run.
The second inning opened with an unfortunate (for the Rays) hit; a Profar pop up into shallow left field that a converging Arozarena, Basabe and Mead let drop for a triple (it was a tough angle for all of them but still I think that better communication could have helped them avoid crashing into each other). Profar scored on a sac fly, followed by a solo home run off the bat of Michael Toglia. The Rockies took a 2-1 lead.
The Rays tied the game in the third. With two men on base, Jose Siri hit a bloopy single to right that scored a run. I’m a big Siri-stan but I’ve got to say, for a fast guy he doesn’t seem to have mastered getting quickly out of the box to try to turn a single into a double. It didn’t matter in this case (Basabe grounded out to end the inning) but it’s just an odd lacuna in the game of a player known for his speed.
The Rays took the lead the following inning; a Yandy Diaz single drove in Curtis Mead from second, but wow Curtis made that play a little too interesting, trotting home standing up when in fact he probably needed to turn on the burners and slide. The Rockies’ catcher didn’t hold onto the ball so it didn’t ultimately matter but still I would think that sliding into home is standard on a close play.
The Rays lead lasted a few innings, in which Littell did a great job of painting corners and keeping hitters off balance. He seemed to lose his crispness in the sixth, giving up several hits and allowing the Rockies to tie the game before he was pulled.But his replacement Colin Poche, just made things worse. He bounced a pitch that allowed the Rockies to score the go ahead run, en route to walking Profar. (I know that Pinto could have done more to block that pitch, but Poche is not blameless, when you spike a ball in the dirt bad things can happen)
The Rays however were thankfully not done scoring. In the eighth inning they loaded the bases with two singles and a walk, and then pinch hitter Christian Bethancourt delivered a single to tie the game, after which Yandy Diaz singled to drive in the go-ahead run.
At that point I’m wondering whether the team can protect a one-run lead, noting that Pete Fairbanks is warming, but we really didn’t need to waste our time with that. Arozarena had a very extended at bat before hitting what would have seemed to be a sac fly to left, but the left fielder couldn’t catch it and two runs scored. (This is a good place to note that Colorado misplayed a number of balls tonight but they were not charged with any errors). Paredes then doubled for yet another run. Colorado reliever Bard hit Siri with a pitch which reloaded the bases, which set things up for Basabe’s first major league home run, of the grand slam variety.
When the dust settled, the Rays had sent thirteen batters to the plate as they scored nine runs in the eighth inning, and they won the game 12-4.
Other than the Poche wild pitch, the bullpen was terrific as the Rays got the homestand off to a good start.
(By the way, for a great account of Daniel Bard and his struggles I recommend this recent profile in the New Yorker.)