Back-to-back exciting games has Willy and Blake like… (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

Another wild one at the Trop last night, as the Tampa Bay Rays staved off the mighty New York Yankees in their 41st one-run game of the season. The Rays held on to a 7-6 victory, and are now 18-23 in one-run affairs.

Tampa Bay got on the board in the first inning after Jake Bauers hit a two-out double to right, off the top of the wall. With Ji-Man Choi at the plate, Severino uncorked a passed ball which Gary Sanchez lallygagged after. Bauers took advantage of Sanchez, scoring all the way from second base to score the game’s first run. It was a heads-up play by the rookie who easily could have settled for just moving up 90 feet.

Everything was right in front of me there, Bauers said after the game. I saw it kick pretty far away. Hustled to get to third, then once I got to third, I saw that tight window that was there and decided to take a chance. In the first inning, I would have told you that hits off Severino are hard to come by so you have to take a chance when you get one.

Meanwhile, Hunter Wood opened the game. And while he was tagged for one run, that probably shouldn’t be held against his line. In the second inning, Giancarlo “doubled,” and by that I mean Kevin Kiermaier lost the ball in the rubbed up baseball colored roof. Three batters later, Stanton came around to score on Miguel Andujar’s two-strike, two-out single to center. When you leave a hanging breaking ball over the plate, expect it to be hit.

Matt Andriese followed Wood for 3-2/3 innings, and looked pretty good. Andriese scattered three hits and fanned five, keeping the game tied through the fifth, when the Rays struck for three runs.

Jesus Sucre went down swinging on three pitches for the first out of the inning, yet Kevin Kiermaier and Matt Duffy hit back-to-back with singles (to center and left, respectively), bringing Bauers to the plate. Severino left a hanging slider over the heart of the plate, and Jake responded by sending the mistake pitch to deep right field for a three-run lead. Nevertheless the Yankees cut into that lead with a two-out rally a half inning later.

After Stanton reached on a single to right, Sunday’s hero Daniel Robertson committed an error that both allowed Aaron Hicks to reach base, and for Stanton to move into third. Rays manager Kevin Cash called upon the hard throwing Diego Castillo to get the final out of the frame, yet he promptly uncorked a passed ball, scoring Stanton. Three pitches later, Sanchez hit a 2-2 single to left field, bringing New York within one. but Greg Bird grounded out on the very next pitch, ending the threat.

With penance on his mind, Robertson led off the bottom of the sixth with a one-run homer to left field, atoning for his error.

The Rays weren’t done though. Mallex Smith doubled, Willy Adames singled, and Tampa Bay chased Severino after allowing double-digit hits for the first time in over two years (April 8, 2016 vs. Detroit). Jesus Sucre singled home Smith with Chad Green on the mound, and Matt Duffy plated a run on a fielder’s choice to short, giving the good guys a 7-3 advantage.

Not content with a four-run lead and the promise of a non-nailbiter of a game though, the Rays sent four different pitchers to the mound in the top of the seventh, as Castillo walked a pair, Jaime Schultz walked Aaron Judge to load the bases, Adam Kolarek got a ground out which plated a run, and Ryne Stanek allowed a two-run single before striking out Hicks to end the inning.

The Rays went quietly in the bottom of the frame, while Jose Alvarado — who got the final out of the eighth — again took the mound in the ninth with Sergio Romo out with the flu. That set up a wild end to the game.

As he is wont to do, Brett Gardner led off the inning with an infield hit. Judge was next, walking on six pitches including a wild pitch by the shockingly erratic southpaw. With the left-handed hitting Didi Gregorius stepping into the batter’s box, Aaron Boone called for a sacrifice bunt, which one one hand allowed both runners to move into scoring position, but on the other hand gave the Rays their first out and opened up first base. Instead of facing Stanton, who had reached base each of his past 10 plate appearances against Tampa Bay, Cash called for an intentional walk, setting up the double play opportunity.

Hicks followed with an RBI or bust opportunity, however, he grounded a ball to Duffy, who fired home to cut down the runner (Gardner) and keep the Yankees off the board.

Finally, with two outs and the bases loaded, Sanchez represented New York’s last opportunity to at least pull even on the ledger. With a 1-1 count, Sanchez grounded a ball to the left side of second base, but because of the shift Robertson made the play. For whatever reason, Robertson flipped the ball to Adames, who had a lot of ground to cover as he made his way across the diamond toward second base, subsequently allowing Hicks to beat him to the bag. And while it appeared as though the Yankees had tied the game, Adames made a heads up play, recognizing that Sanchez was lackadaisically making his way to first base. Adames fired over to Bauers, and got the final out of the wild contest.

Extremely heads-up, extremely heads-up, said Bauers of Adames’ play. That’s how you win games right there, with plays like that. He’s the guy who is going to make plays like that.

The New What Next

The Rays are expected to recall right-hander Yonny Chirinos (0-1, 3.71 ERA) from Triple-A Durham ahead of Tuesday night’s game. He will get the start opposite of Masahiro Tanaka (7-2, 4.54 ERA). To make room for Chirinos on the roster, LHP Adam Kolarek was optioned back to Durham.

Yonny Chirinos made six appearances (five starts) for the Rays in 2018, and sits with a 3.71 ERA and 1.27 WHIP with 24 strikeouts over 26-2/3 innings. It will be his first big league start since April 28 when he was placed on the DL with a flexor tendon strain in his elbow. He later found himself on the shelf in Triple-A with a shoulder injury. He threw five innings his last time out for Durham, allowing three runs (two earned) against Buffalo.

Masahiro Tanaka allowed two runs on six hits and a walk while fanning five over 6-1/3 innings on Sunday. He did not factor into the decision. The right-hander gave up a two-run lead in the fourth inning after surrendering a home run to Edwin Encarnacion. In spite three straight solid performances (six runs allowed over 15-2/3 innings), Tanaka doesn’t have a win to show for his efforts. The splitter throwing Tanaka has not faced the Rays this season. He has a 7-2 record against Tampa Bay in 11 career starts, but with a 4.10 ERA, and is 3-2 with a 5.96 ERA in five starts at the Trop. Key Matchups: CJ Cron (1-3), Matt Duffy (1-3), Carlos Gomez (3-10, 2B, RBI, BB), Adeiny Hechavarria (3-5, RBI), Kevin Kiermaier (7-15, 2B, 3B, HR, RBI, BB), Daniel Robertson (1-1, 2B), Jesus Sucre (1-2, 2B, RBI)

You can read about the series in our preview.

The New What Next: Rays vs Yankees part four — a series preview

Rays 7/24/18 Starting Lineup

Kiermaier CF
Duffy 3B
Bauers LF
Cron 3B
Choi DH
Robertson 2B
Smith RF
Adames SS
Sucre C

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