After losing a close game last night to the Guardians, the Rays entered Saturday night’s matchup looking to even the series with a win.
To sum it up: They had a lead, then trailed, then tied it up, took the lead, and then blew a pair of saves in the 9th and 11th innings.
Zach Littell, the Rays latest reliever-turned-starter, got the start and made it through 4.2 innings of work before giving way to the Rays bullpen, who came ready to play.
Littell gave up a run in the first and second innings prior to throwing a scoreless third. But, in the fourth inning, he surrendered a pair of runs and exited before the inning was over. Both early runs scored by the Guardians came on ground balls that didn't leave the infield, but the latter two came on a fourth inning Gabriel Arias two-run bomb.
Littell finished the night with 4.2 IP, one strikeout, no walks, and four earned runs on nine hits. The Rays bullpen was stellar until the bottom of the ninth. Diekman, Armstrong, and Poche combined to throw 3.1 innings of scoreless baseball. With the Rays leading 5-4 int he bottom of the ninth, Pete Fairbanks came on looking for the save.
After a leadoff single by Will Brennan, Fairbanks would retire the next two hitters. But, with two outs, Oscar Gonzalez singled on a ball that ricocheted off Fairbanks. Kwan was due next and promptly singled home the pinch-running Myles Straw.
At the plate, the Rays got off to a fast start as Yandy Diaz hit a leadoff bomb to begin the game.
The Rays would go quietly until the fifth inning when Bethancourt hit a game-tying, three run homer off Guardians starter, Logan Allen. The blast would tie the game at 4-4.
Allen would finish the night with 5 IP, allowing four runs on seven hits. He struck out five and walked none.
The very next inning Jose Siri hit a go-ahead solo shot to left field. The Rays would take the 5-4 lead to the ninth.
Following the blown save by Fairbanks, the Rays and Guardians would go to extras.
In the top of the 10th, Walls advanced Raley to third on a grounder. With one out, Basabe chopped ball to Kwan at second who threw Raley out at the plate. The Rays would not score in the inning.
In the bottom of the tenth, Robert Stephenson came on and threw a “spotless” inning (we can't confirm if it was immaculate or not due to the intentional walk). Nonetheless, he threw nine pitches and all were strikes. He struck out the side rather effortlessly.
In the top of the 11th, Brandon Lowe gave the Rays a 6-5 lead on a sacrifice fly to center, scoring Brujan.
The newest Rays reliever, Chris Devenski, was called on to close out the game in the bottom of the eleventh. He could not, and the Rays lost 7-6 in excruciating fashion.
The other story of the game was home plate umpire, C.B. Bucknor. That scorecard in the morning... yikes. In the fourth inning, Kevin Cash had seen enough following a nonsensical pitch clock violation courtesy of none other than C.B. Bucknor. He was ejected following a heated exchange. Very rarely do you see Cash fired up, and if he is, odds are that you are performing poorly. This was clearly the case with Bucknor throughout the night.
***It should also be mentioned that at one point Bucknor utilized his trademarked punch-out motion to ring up a Guardians hitter... on strike two.