I spent a good part of the game envying Minneapolis their early fall weather. That blue sky, the 64 degree temps, what a day!
And the Rays bats seemed to appreciate the weather, too. They scored three in the first inning, starting with Curtis Meads triple. Max Kepler, in right field was not given an error on the play but that ball seemed very catchable — and after he failed to get it, Kepler froze for a minute rather than getting the ball back to the field quickly.
Mead trots to third on his leadoff triple pic.twitter.com/H1Gy0IcH6i— Rays Radio (@RaysRadio) September 13, 2023
Mead scored on an infield single, and several batters later Yandy Diaz lofted one over the head of the left fielder for a two RBI double, and a 3-0 lead. (His doubled clocked in at 107.3 mph in case you were wondering how his recent injury had impacted his ability to hit).
Diaz demolishes one to left field for a two-run double pic.twitter.com/JxS5VeGDT4— Rays Radio (@RaysRadio) September 13, 2023
The Rays scored yet again in the third thanks against to Curtis Mead, whose double drove in Paredes, who had walked.
But 4-0 quickly became 4-2 in the bottom of the inning. I like when a young pitcher enjoys a lead and challenges batters, rather than nibbling, but Bradley threw a few middle middle fast balls that I guess weren’t that much of a challenges. He gave up two solo home runs and a hard hit double before retiring the side.
The Rays continued to threaten in several innings but didn’t seem to be able to get that big hit. In the fifth inning, they had runners on first and second, when Curtis Mead hit a slow grounder. The Twins threw to third for one out, and back to first where by rights Mead should have been able to beat out the throw. But he had slowed down before hitting the base, was called safe, but the call was overturned upon review. The broadcasters, rightly, called him out for costing the Rays an out (and hastening the end of the inning); if you recall, players have been benched for failing to run out grounders.
So we saw a rookie mistake from Mead, and we also got a bit of a rookie inning from Bradley in the bottom part of that inning. He did win a 16 pitch battle to notch a strikeout for the first out, but that seemed to deplete him, and he walked the next two batters, who both moved up on a wild pitch.
Bradley left, Jake Diekman took his place, and he yielded a 2 RBI triple to Max Kepler. Of course it’s not great that Diekman gave up these runs, but Kepler hit a good pitch just outside the zone, and really it’s the two uncompetitive walks before the triple, and starters who can’t make it through five innings, that set up this failure.
This felt like the kind of game that could have gone south. Blown lead, needing to go to overtaxed bullpen early, tough schedule.
But behold, in the top of the ninth, with two outs, with Kevin Cash no doubt wondering how he was going to drag this crew through extra innings, a hero emerged.
Randy to the rescue.
Colin Poche came on to pitch the ninth with the amazing Bob Stephenson coming in for that last out, and the Rays had pulled off another series win.
Need I remind everyone, it’s now on to Baltimore. Looks like some great late summer weather there, let’s hope we are bringing out brooms on Sunday.