The Tampa Bay Rays held the lead twice on Friday yet lost it both times. Yet, they took it a third time, and that was the charm. Manuel Margot hit a ninth-inning three-run homer allowing Tampa Bay to take a late one-run lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
At 17-10 on the season, the Rays enter play Saturday seven games over .500 and have won five consecutive games. They have now played 25 one-run games against the Mariners since 2013 and are 13-12 in so doing after winning Friday, 8-7.
Seattle took the initial lead in the first inning against opener Matt Wisler when Adam Frazier doubled to right before Eugenio Suárez drilled a slider over the wall in left for a two-run lead. It was Suárez’s fifth homer of the season, and also made him 6-11 with four homers off Wisler.
Even so, Wisler retired the final four batters he faced to finish two frames. The two runs allowed are the only ones the right-hander has allowed in the opening role.
Even so, the Rays were able to answer in the second inning against Logan Gilbert, who began the day having allowed two earned runs all season (five starts). Taylor Walls walked with one out to start the rally, and Francisco Mejia singled to center.
After Brett Phillips struck out looking for the second out, Yandy Diaz, Wander Franco, and Randy Arozarena delivered RBI two-out singles — all up the middle, no less — for a one-run advantage. It was an important inning because Gilbert not only gave up the lead but also threw 36 pitches in the frame.
Josh Fleming pitched the bulk innings for Tampa Bay, working a scoreless third before Seattle moved back in front in the fourth. Suárez walked, and Jesse Winker then chopped a double up the left-field line, putting both runners in scoring position. Abraham Toro followed with a sac fly to left-center — advancing both runners and tying the game at three. Julio Rodriguez walked on four pitches before Dylan Moore lined a single to left for a one-run advantage. Fleming departed with a pair on and two outs, yet, he didn’t allow the situation to spiral out of control. Even so, he saw his ERA increase from 6.32 to 6.38 while his FIP sits at 4.28, with an unlucky .391 BABIP and a 1.96 WHIP across 18.1 innings on the season.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay tied the game at four in the fifth inning against Gilbert. After the right-hander had retired eight consecutive Rays hitters, Arozarena doubled with one out. Brandon Lowe walked ahead of Harold Ramirez, who hit a dribbler to third for an infield hit. Suárez made an errant throw to first, scoring Arozarena and tying the game at four. Lowe was thrown out trying to advance to third on a play that could neither be confirmed nor denied by review.
Jalen Beeks finished off the fifth and worked a scoreless sixth in relief of Fleming. JP Feyereisen got the next four outs, working around a pair of walks in the seventh, setting the stage for the late-inning drama.
Tampa Bay pulled ahead of Seattle in the top of the seventh against Andres Munoz. Wander Franco walked ahead of Arozarena, who singled to right for his third hit on the night. After Munoz hit Lowe with a pitch, loading the bases, Ramirez hit a ground ball deep to the hole at short. Franco crossed the plate while Arozarena was forced at third, giving Tampa Bay a short-lived one-run advantage.
But, Ryan Thompson faced the toughest outing of the young season. The right-hander had not allowed an earned run this season when he entered the game with one out in the eighth inning and staked to a 5-4 lead. Julio Rodriguez beat out a slow roller to short for an infield hit, then the .127 hitting Jarred Kelenic — pinch-hitting for Dylan Moore — belted a two-run blast to right-center for the lead.
But, down by one in the ninth, Arozarena began the last go-ahead rally for Tampa Bay with a one-out single to left off Paul Sewald. Lowe, who reached base four times, lined a single to center putting a pair on and bringing Manuel Margot, who had entered in the seventh as a defensive replacement, to the plate.
Margot has a penchant for big hits and drilled a three-run home run to centerfield for an 8-6 lead.
Thompson came back out in the ninth and allowed a leadoff homer to Suárez, his second of the game, making it a one-run affair once more, however, Brooks Raley came on to get the final three outs of the contest, giving the hurler his second save in as many days.
The New What Next
Game three of the four-game set takes place tonight with Drew Rasmussen (2-1, 3.13 ERA) on the bump. He’ll pitch opposite of left-hander Marco Gonzales (1-3, 4.05 ERA).
Drew Rasmussen got the start against Oakland on Monday and tossed five innings, allowing one run on one hit and one walk while striking out three. Rasmussen induced only six swinging strikes, and the Athletics wore him down with 22 foul balls. Even so, he yielded just a single and a walk and hung around just long enough to pick up his second consecutive win. He hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in any appearance this season, helping him register a solid 3.13 ERA and 3.17 FIP, with a 0.87 WHIP and a 4.22 K/BB through five starts. Rasmussen was fantastic against the Mariners, allowing no runs on two scattered hits while striking out nine across six innings.
Marco Gonzales allowed three runs on eight hits and two walks while striking out two over six innings on Monday against the Astros. Gonzales was hit on his left wrist by a comebacker in his previous turn and wasn’t certain to be available Monday, although he ended up navigating through six frames. He allowed plenty of traffic on the bases although he managed to notch his second quality start, with all three runs against him coming by way of the long ball. The southpaw has struggled this season, although his ERA stands at a respectable 4.05 since eight of the 17 runs scored against him have been unearned. The Rays literally knocked Gonzales out of his last start at the Trop after just 11 pitches and 0.1 of an inning thanks to a hard-hit comebacker. Key Matchups: Kevin Kiermaier (2-5), Brandon Lowe (1-3, 2B), Manuel Margot (1-4, 2B, RBI, BB), Harold Ramirez (1-1, RB), Mike Zunino (1-3, 2B, RBI)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the the starting lineup is below.
Rays 5/7/22 Starting Lineup
- Diaz 1B
- Franco SS
- Ramirez DH
- Arozarena LF
- B. Lowe 2B
- Margot RF
- Zunino C
- Paredes 3B
- Kiermaier CF
— Something to keep an eye on: