They could’ve used one of these in Cleveland last night. (Photo Credit: X-Rays Spex)

The Tampa Bay Rays eked out an extra-inning win on Tuesday thanks to Harold Ramírez, who drove in a pair of runs on a clutch double. The Rays ended the night with a magic number of three to punch their postseason ticket for the fourth consecutive season.

At 85-69 on the season, Tampa Bay enters play 16 games over .500 and sandwiched between Toronto and Seattle (by 1.5 games) for the second American League Wildcard spot.

Corey Kluber got the start Tuesday and allowed three runs on eight hits and a walk while striking out five across four innings. All three runs against Kluber came with two outs when José Ramírez tripled in a run in the third inning and Steven Kwan hit a two-run single in the fourth. Kluber needed 91 pitches to get through the four frames and was removed rather than face the heart of Cleveland’s lineup a third time. It’s been feast or famine for the right-hander in September as he’s tossed seven innings while allowing one run or fewer on two occasions and given up 13 runs in 10.1 innings in his other three outings combined. All told, the BABIP bad-luck king (Kluber maintains a .316 BABIP on the season, 15 points higher than his career number) owns a 4.36 ERA but a 3.54 FIP, with a 6.75 K/BB, and a 1.21 WHIP across 159.0 frames.

Down by a run in the fourth, Tampa Bay answered the Guardians against Shane Bieber. Wander Franco sparked the rally with a leadoff double and moved up to third on the coresponding throw back into the infield. Harold Ramírez followed with a game-tying double.

Tampa Bay scored the next three runs in the inning with two outs. Christian Bethancourt singled to keep the rally alive for José Siri, who hit a three-run homer to left to put them up by three.

Be that as it may, Cleveland’s pitching staff buckled down for the next six frames and did not allow a batter to reach base until the 11th inning. Meanwhile, the Guardians chipped away at the Rays’ lead and ultimately tied things up in the eighth.

If you’re still wondering how pitch number six went for ball four and not strike three, you’re not alone.

As mentioned above, Cleveland fought back for a pair of runs in the bottom of the fourth, then tied the game against Jason Adam in the eighth. Adam issued a one-out walk (with a little help from home plate umpire Mark Carlson) to Gabriel Arias, who subsequently swiped second. After a groundout moved Arias up to third, the speedy Myles Straw grounded to short and was initially ruled out at first. Yet, the play was challenged and the call was overturned.

Tied at four in the 11th, Tampa Bay took the go-ahead lead against Trevor Stephan. With Taylor Walls as the ghost runner at second, Franco walked to bring Ramírez into the batter’s box. Ramírez fell behind but went to work and ultimately a grounder down the third base line to score both runners and make it 6-4.

The Guardians got one run back against Calvin Faucher, who then slammed the door shut for the win.

The New What Next

Tyler Glasnow (0-0, 1.29 ERA at Triple-A) will make his triumphant return to the mound on Wednesday, pitching opposite Triston McKenzie (11-11, 3.04 ERA).

Tyler Glasnow, in his first post-Tommy John surgery return to the bump, will be limited to about 45 pitches (2-3 innings or 10-12 batters). It is possible he could log four or five innings if he stays on turn and pitches the following week in Boston. In his most recent start, on Friday, Glasnow put up a 2.2 IP/0 H/1 BB/6K line on 46 pitches (26 strikes, 57% strike rate). The right-hander fell behind four of the last six hitters, yet he rallied to retire three of the four. Overall, his fastball sat in the 97-98 mph range across his four rehab outings, his curveball was sharp, and his cut slider boasted a ton of deception. All told, he allowed just one run on one hit and four walks (the first three walks came in his first rehab outing) with 14 combined strikeouts across 14 frames.

Triston McKenzie allowed two runs on six hits over eight innings against the White Sox on Wednesday. He struck out 13. McKenzie allowed his runs in the form of a fourth-inning home run off the bat of third baseman Yoan Moncada and a seventh-inning RBI single from Gavin Sheets. The right-hander has thrown seven innings or more eight times in his last 15 starts. In addition, he has generated a lot of whiffs during his last seven outings, recording 56 strikeouts over 45.2 innings. Overall, he maintains a 3.04 ERA and a 3.72 FIP on the season, with a 0.96 WHIP, and a 4.19 K/BB, over 180.1 innings. McKenzie relies primarily on a 93 mph four-seam fastball with good “rising” action, a hard 87 mph slider, and an 80 mph curveball with 12-6 movement. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (1-3), Christian Bethancourt (1-3, 2B), Wander Franco (1-3, 2B), Isaac Paredes (1-3)

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.

Rays 9/28/22 Starting Lineup

  1. Margot RF
  2. Arozarena LF
  3. Franco SS
  4. Ramírez DH
  5. Choi 1B
  6. Paredes 3B
  7. Bethancourt C
  8. Walls 2B
  9. Siri CF