Back on April 10, an MLB Network analyst posed a question, “When would the Red Sox pass Rays” this season. He did not ask “if,” rather more presumptuously “when.” On Friday, some five-plus months later, the Tampa Bay Rays answered the question: never. Tampa Bay rallied from a 2-0 deficit, lost a late lead, and still survived, winning 5-4 over Boston.
By opening the final regular-season homestand with a tally in the win column, the Rays enter play still tied for the last AL Wildcard spot with eight games left to play.
Because of the win, the Rays inched up their chances to make the playoffs to 55.8% per FanGraphs. Baseball Prospectus gives them a more favorable, albeit diminished, 59.4% chance.
Charlie Morton was sharp over the first six frames, allowing just three hits — two on the infield — and a walk over that stretch while striking out six. However, he surrendered a two-run homer to Mitch Moreland in the seventh inning before exiting the contest. Even so, Morton is 2-0 over his last four turns, allowing three runs or fewer in each outing. The right-hander owns a 3.15 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP, with a 4.3 K/BB across 188-2/3 innings this season.
Tampa Bay trailed Boston in the seventh inning thanks to right-hander Rick Porcello, who held the Rays in check. Porcello allowed just one a runner to make it past first in the first six innings, throwing shutout ball.
The Rays had their only scoring opportunity against Porcello in the third inning when Avisail Garcia and Matt Duffy singled to put runners on the corners. However, Willy Adames struck out, Joey Wendle flew out to left, and Auston Meadows fanned to end the threat.
Entering the ballgame, Porcello had a career 2.87 ERA in 16 starts at Tropicana Field, and he improved that number on Friday.
Yet, the Rays rallied against left-handed reliever Darwinzon Hernandez in the bottom of the seventh. After Ji-Man Choi struck out, Travis d’Arnaud singled to right-center. Pinch-hitter Jesus Aguilar walked and Michael Brosseau, pinch-hitting for Garcia who left the game due to illness, walked on four pitches to load the bases. Right-hander Marcus Walden entered for Hernandez, and pinch hitter Nate Lowe drove in a run on a 2-1 fielder’s choice to short.
The hot-hitting Adames was next, lining an RBI ground-rule double to right, scoring pinch-runner Guillermo Heredia and sending Lowe to third. Josh Taylor, the third pitcher of the inning, uncorked a wild pitch for the go-ahead lead.
Tampa Bay was able to add an insurance run against Andrew Cashner in the eighth inning. Meadows wasn’t able to extend his 16-game hitting streak although he did walk on four pitches. After Tommy Pham flew out to the wall in left, Choi ripped a double into the right-field corner, scoring Meadows for a two-run lead.
Nick Anderson entered the game in the eighth inning and made quick work of Mookie Betts. Christian Vazquez walked on a close full-count pitch, the first non-intentional walk Anderson has allowed with Tampa Bay. In spite of that, Rafael Devers went down on three pitches and Xander Bogaerts grounded to third, ending the frame.
But, all the heavy lifting would be for not, as Moreland tied things up in the ninth inning. Emilio Pagan entered the game tasked with preserving the 4-2 lead, however, Gorkys Hernandez tripled off the top of the right-field wall. And though Holt lined out to center for the first out of the inning, Moreland crushed a 97 mph fastball over the wall in left-center.
To his credit, Moreland hit a good pitch by Pagan, who was able to get the next two outs before Chaz Roe and Colin Poche combined for a perfect tenth, keeping Tampa Bay in the ballgame.
In the 11th inning, Trevor Kelley quickly retired the first two batters before he walked Brosseau and Daniel Robertson. The fleet of foot Johnny Davis pinch-ran for Brosseau and Adames lined a walk-off single to left, capping the second extra-inning game in as many contests.
The New What Next
Tyler Glasnow (6-1, 2.03 ERA) will get the start for the Rays in the second game of the series. Alex Cora has yet to announce a starter.
Tyler Glasnow didn’t factor into the decision on Saturday, giving up two hits and a walk across three scoreless frames. He struck out five. Glasnow got stretched out to 51 pitches (29 strikes, 57% strike rate) in his second outing since returning from the IL, and looked much sharper in this one than he did last weekend against Toronto. Glasnow has a 3.33 K/BB across five innings in September, and the team will continue gradually ramp-up his workload as it tries to lock down a postseason spot. This season he is 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA in two starts against the Red Sox.
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
Rays 9/21/19 Starting Lineup
- Meadows RF
- Pham LF
- Choi 1B
- d’Arnaud C
- Lowe DH
- Duffy 3B
- Wendle 2B
- Kiermaier CF
- Adames SS
— Rays manager Kevin Cash said that Yonny Chirinos will return to the active roster as early as today or tomorrow.
The right-hander’s role, however, remains to be determined. Chirinos has thrown up to 40 pitches in simulated games over the last couple of weeks, although there’s not enough time to build up his arm as a full starter.
Cash said having him pitch out of the bullpen is an option.
He’ll most likely be available for us out of the bullpen over the next couple of days. He’s already thrown 40 pitches in a unique setting, but like we told Tyler (Glasnow), and like we told Blake (Snell), it’s going to be dependent on how he performs and how it’s looking.— Kevin Cash
Chirinos told the media that the right middle finger inflammation that sidelined him for over a month is no longer a factor.
I feel good. I’m truly ready to go and now I’m just waiting to see what happens.— Yonny Chirinos
— Eric Sogard continues to nurse right foot soreness and was not in the Rays lineup Friday night. Tampa Bay hoped that an off-day would help the infielder get back on the field, although that wasn’t the case. Sogard underwent more treatment Friday and the team hopes to get him back at some point during the four-game set.