It’s Friday night, 90’s night, and the Tampa Bay Rays feel alright after completing a comeback victory over the Seattle Mariners.
Taj Bradley looked good to get things going for the Rays. Friday night’s starting pitcher retired J.P. Crawford, Julio Rodriguez, and Cal Raleigh in order with two flyouts and a strikeout to keep things clean through the first half inning.
In the bottom of the first, the Rays took advantage of free baserunners. They loaded the bases thanks to a walk to Yandy Diaz, Harold Ramirez getting hit by a pitch, and a walk to Rany Arozarena. Isaac Paredes stepped to the plate and delivered an RBI single on a ball that dropped in left field after the ball was lost against the backdrop of the Tropicana Field roof, scoring Diaz. A Josh Lowe sacrifice fly allowed Ramirez to score, giving the Rays a 2-0 lead after the first. It felt like this was the peak for the Rays in the game for a while.
The Mariners soon found their rhythm in the top of the 2nd. After a quick strikeout, Eugenio Suarez smashed a solo home run to center field. Dominic Canzone’s ground-rule double and Dylan Moore’s RBI double soon leveled the score at 2-2.
The Mariners kept it going in the top of the third when Julio Rodriguez sent a solo homer to left field, extending their lead. Despite Teoscar Hernandez hitting a double, the Rays’ defense held strong, ending the inning without further damage.
While the 4th inning was quiet on the scoring front, the Mariners widened their lead in the 5th with a solo home run by Cal Raleigh to make it a 4-2 game.
After coming out the gate strong in the first, Bradley faltered, giving up four runs over 6.1 innings of work. He allowed six hits, including three home runs. Despite the moments of struggle, he also had some bright spots. He struck out five Mariners and only walked two to leave the game within reach for the eventual comeback.
George Kirby pitched for 6.1 innings, surrendering four runs and allowing five hits, including a home run. He struck out six Rays and walked two.
Speaking of the eventual comeback, it got started with some excitement in the bottom of the seventh inning. Jose Siri hit a double, and you can tell as he rounded second that he clearly wanted third base, too, which he ultimately stole. Rene Pinto then crushed a two-run homer, tying the game 4-4. Isaiah Campbell’s pitching couldn’t hold off the Rays’ offensive push as Harold Ramirez smacked a go-ahead two-run home run, propelling the Rays to a 6-4 lead. In just one inning, what felt like a game that was headed for a Mariners’ victory, the Rays’ offense showed up and showed out.
And they weren’t done yet.
In the 8th, Randy Arozarena laid out to make sure the Mariners did not have a chance to stage a comeback of their own. Then, in the bottom half of the inning, Isaac Paredes further solidified the Rays’ position with a solo home run, widening the margin to 7-4.
The top of the ninth saw Pete Fairbanks on the mound to get the final three outs and close the victory for the Rays. With steely determination in his eyes, he struck out two Mariners and secured the win for Tampa Bay.
As the season winds down, there is little time to fall any farther behind in the race for the AL East title. The Rays have to keep within striking distance until they can get to their head-to-head series with the Orioles. Despite all of the challenges, distractions, and adversity the team has faced, they have not lost their fight, and the fight may come down to the final series or final game.
Until then, there is another game tomorrow with these two teams as Aaron Civale takes the mound for the Rays. The first pitch is at 4:05 pm ET.