It does not matter how many mistakes you make if the other team cannot capitalize on them.
On a day that felt like it would be the final game of a sweep, the Tampa Bay Rays managed to pull off a 6-2 victory against the Cleveland Guardians. While numbers may not lie, box scores certainly don’t tell the whole story.
From the very first pitch, Xzavion Curry looked unstoppable on the mound. Dominating the Rays through the first two innings, he threw strikes on an incredible 21 of his first 22 pitches. Clearly, Curry was in his bag while shutting down the Rays’ offense.
The Rays demonstrated their resilience and ability to craft opportunities out of seemingly lost causes. After reaching base on an error in the top of the third, Taylor Walls stole second, setting the stage for Rene Pinto’s home run, the first hit Curry allowed, to put the Rays ahead 2-0.
The hero can come from anywhere in this lineup.— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 3, 2023
René homers from the 9 spot for the lead. pic.twitter.com/hDPTjeFEAz
The Guardians responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the third. Miles Straw reached first safely on a fielding error by Taylor Walls and advanced to third following a walk to Jose Ramirez and a Josh Naylor groundout. Ramon Laureano connected on an inside fastball for an RBI-single to make it a 2-1 game.
The bottom of the fifth opened with Steven Kwan walking after a six-pitch at-bat without taking any swings. A Bradley wild pitch moved him to second before scoring on a RBI-single from Naylor to tie the game 2-2. It felt as if, little by little, the Rays would gift this game away.
Taj Bradley showed glimpses of what’s possible and plenty of reasons his doubters will say he’s not ready to be in the majors full-time. Overall, he looked good, racking up seven strikeouts in five innings. His performance would have generated more excitement to close out the season had it not been for the five walks and two wild pitches he dished out. Surprisingly, these missteps only resulted in two runs for the Guardians.
The sixth and seventh innings just felt like the moments we would point back to as key moments if the Rays lost. With Arozarena on second and Brandon Lowe on third with two outs, Jose Siri hit a deep fly ball to right field that Ramon Laureano made a play so incredible that if it happened in a video game, you would say the game was cheating. He got up on his horse and made an incredible play to close out the sixth.
Ramon Laureano keeps the game tied! pic.twitter.com/ZxNBFxVRzC— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) September 3, 2023
Then, in the seventh, the Rays had bases loaded with one out and managed not to score a run after Brandon Lowe and Isaac Paredes both popped up to the catcher. The way these two innings ended just felt like the Rays were destined for a loss.
In the eighth inning, when the pressure seemed insurmountable, and the game felt like it might slip from the Rays’ grasp, Jose Siri proved to be a no-hit wonder. Despite finishing the day 0-4 at the plate, Siri didn’t need a hit to make a difference. He started with a walk, stole second with style, and sprinted home on Taylor Walls’ RBI single, once again putting the Rays ahead. If there is a team that can turn nothing into something, it’s the Rays.
In case you somehow didn't know, Jose Siri is FAST pic.twitter.com/2utjtGnQH9— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 3, 2023
Eli Morgan left the bullpen and took the mound for the Guardians in the ninth inning, though the Rays felt relief when it was over. Morgan allowed back-to-back-to-back singles to open the inning, culminating in a RBI-single on a softly hit ball from Brandon Lowe to extend the Rays lead to 4-2 thanks to a throwing error from Morgan. A fielding error from Jose Tena for not touching second base on a fielder's choice allowed Lowe to score, giving us our final score of 6-2.
With the win, the Rays finish the road trip 3-2 as they prepare to return to the Trop for a seven-game homestand. Up first is the Boston Red Sox tomorrow, with RHP Aaron Civale taking the mound for the Rays and RHP Brayan Bello starting for the Red Sox. The first pitch is scheduled for 4:10 pm EST.