The Rays plated six runs on Tuesday, and Evan Longoria became the second player in franchise history to hit for the cycle, as Tampa Bay hung on to beat the AL leading Astros, 6–4. The Rays are now four games behind the Red Sox in the AL East, and just 1-1/2 games behind the Royals in the Wildcard race.
Tampa Bay took the lead in the first inning after Lucas Duda hit a one-out single to second, then was wild pitched to second by right-hander Mike Fiers. Longoria followed with a moonshot to left — off the train above the Crawford Boxes — his 17th home run of the season. Not one to be outdone, Logan Morrison crushed a no doubter to right field — his 27th homer of the season.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 2, 2017
It was a Major League Baseball leading 12th time the Rays have gone back to back this season.
They then were able to extend the lead two innings later. With none on and one out, Duda doubled to left before Longoria tripled him home to make it a four-run game. Adeiny Hechavarria capped the scoring with a two-out single, extending the lead to 5–0. Unfortunately Brad Miller — doing his best impersonation of Tim Beckham — was thrown out at third on the play to end the inning.
From that point on Fiers buckled down and kept the Astros in the ball game, benefitting from double-plays in the fourth and fifth innings, and working around a leadoff walk in the sixth.
Meanwhile, Chris Archer cruised through the first four innings, giving up just one single. He, however, found himself in deep counts against a team that has struck out the fewest times in all of baseball. That, paired with some loud contact, speaks to the fact that Archer really wasn’t that dominant.
To be fair, Archer owes Peter Bourjos (who handled one of those rather loud outs) a beer. Alex Bregman took Archer deep to center to leadoff the third, yet Bourjos leaped and made a spectacular catch before crashing into the wall.
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) August 2, 2017
Archer could only keep Houston off the board for so long, and the Astros began a comeback effort in the fifth inning after Carlos Beltran hit a one-out homer (his 13th homer of the season). Then with two outs, Bregman homered into the Crawford Boxes in left, making it a 5–2 ball game.
The Rays were able answer in the seventh inning. With one out, Corey Dickerson walked chasing Fiers. Against southpaw Reymin Guduan, Duda fell one foot shy of hitting his fourth home run in five days. Thankfully Longoria and Morrison hit back-to-back singles, plating Dickerson and putting the Rays up again by four. That insurance run was important, because the Astros rallied for a pair of runs in the bottom of the inning.
The lineup turned over for the third time in the sixth inning, yet Archer made it through that frame unscathed. However, knowing his propensity to jump the shark the third time though the order, it was rather shocking to see him back out on the mound to start the seventh. Forget not that Archer has performed to a .321 BA/.392 OBP/.509 SLG/.901 OPS/.386 wOBA slash line the third time through the order this season.
Marwin Gonzalez made the most of Kevin Cash’s gift with a double to left, then scored on Beltran’s single to center. Archer’s night was done.
Steve Cishek entered in relief and quickly gave up a line drive double to Evan Gattis, putting a pair of runners into scoring position. Bregman followed by hitting an RBI dribbler to first that scored a run on the first out of the inning. After Jake Marisnick popped out to second, Dan Jennings entered the game to face LHH Derek Fisher … and walked him on five pitches.
With the productive right-handed hitter Jose Altuve making his way into the batter’s box, Cash called upon the Rays best reliever Tommy Hunter, who got him to ground out to short. Hunter followed a perfect eighth — the seventh time this season he didn’t allow a run, and got four outs or more. Finally, Alex Colome followed with an efficient and perfect ninth for his 31st save of the season.
As for Longoria…
Longoria homered in the first, tripled in the third, singled in the seventh, and doubled in the ninth — joining BJ Upton, who hit for the cycle on October 2, 2009, as the second Ray to hit for the cycle. While Longoria was originally called out at second, the play was overturned after a crew chief review. That became the first cycle under the current replay system (2014-) that involved umpire review/manager challenge on any of the hits.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 2, 2017
Longoria’s cycle was the 6th in MLB this year, most in any season since 2009 (8). Also Bellinger, Arenado, C. Gomez, T. Turner, W. Myers.
— Dave Haller (@HallerDave) August 2, 2017
The New What Next
The Rays look to make it two straight with a win at Minute Maid Park tonight. Austin Pruitt (5-2, 6.63 ERA, 4.13 FIP) will get the start for Tampa Bay, pitching opposite of Dallas Keuchel (9-0, 1.94 ERA, 3.31 FIP).
Pruitt made his first start of the season on Friday in place of the injured Jake Odorizzi. The right-hander gave up three homers and five runs (all earned) over five innings against Masahiro Tanaka and the Yankees.
Keuchel made his first big league start since June 2 on Friday. He needed 63 pitches to get through two innings and ultimately lasted only three, allowing three runs in his only start in which he did not notch a win. Keuchel won’t overpower opposing batters — among 94 of the pitchers who qualify for the ERA title this season, the southpaw is ranked 88th in velocity at 88.7 mph — rather the name of his game is command and control of the zone. He, however, is 1-4 with a 4.70 ERA in seven career starts against Tampa Bay. Key Matchups: Tim Beckham (4-7, 2B, 3B, RBI, BB), Corey Dickerson (1-3), Adeiny Hechavarria (1-3), Evan Longoria (5-18, 2 RBI), Brad Miller (4-13, RBI, 2 BB), Logan Morrison (3-9, 2B), Steven Souza Jr. (2-5)
Rays 8/2/17 Starting Lineup
— Steven Souza Jr. is again a late scratch from the lineup as he is still dealing with a sore foot after he fouled a ball off of it on Sunday in the Bronx. The Rays are sending Souza for more tests on his foot right now, and are hoping it’s nothing more than a bruise.
— Kevin Kiermaier’s return to the lineup will be delayed past his August 8 target due to back trouble. As Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times) wrote, Kiermaier is experiencing significant pain in his lower back.
Kiermaier has been having “siginificant pain” when bending to field ground balls, manager Kevin Cash said, and has been shut down from all baseball activities for the rest of the week.
“Little movements are grabbing him,” Cash said. “I don’t think this is a major thing but it is going to derail Aug. 8-9 I would think.”