Down by three runs early, the Tampa Bay Rays rallied for a trifecta of runs in the ninth inning to tie the contest and three more in the tenth for their 92nd win of the season.
At 92-57 on the season, the Rays enter play 36-games over .500 and 8.5 games up on the Red Sox in the division. They also reduced their magic number for a playoff spot — and to clinch the division — to six.
Luis Patiño got the start Friday and put together an uneven outing, allowing four runs on six hits and a walk over the first three frames, yet nothing from the fourth inning on. He struck out four and threw 80 pitches (12 whiffs, 15% SwStr%). Patiño served up a leadoff home run to Akil Baddoo on the third pitch of the game, then later allowed a pair of runs in the second and a fourth and final run in the third.
Yet, the right-hander settled down and faced the minimum over the next 3.2 frames without allowing a hit to get through. He kept the Rays in the game and allowed Kevin Cash to use the bullpen like he wanted to, not like he needed to. Patiño’s ERA is now up to 4.73 through 70.1 innings, while his FIP sits at 4.70, and he’s allowed 10 runs through 13 frames (6.92 ERA) over his last three appearances. Overall, he maintains a 1.25 WHIP and a 2.46 K/BB across 70.1 innings on the season.
Down by a run in the first, Tampa Bay immediately answered in the home half of the frame. Ji-Man Choi singled to center with one out, then moved up to third on Randy Arozarena’s double to left. The Rays’ RBI leader, Austin Meadows, hit a line drive sac-fly to right — driving in his 100th RBI of the season, and making him the first Ray to have that many in a season since Evan Longoria in 2010.
Yet, that was all they could muster until the ninth, having gone 0-for-5 wRISP and stranding nine runners on the base paths over that stretch. Derek Holland got five outs in relief of Casey Mize before he was hit squarely on his, well…caboose by a Choi comebacker (an infield single), turning it over to Drew Hutchison.
Hutchinson walked Arozarena and Meadows to load the bases, yet Joey Wendle grounded to first on the very first pitch of the at-bat, ending the threat. Hutchison got four outs before Alex Lange and Kyle Funkhouser each pitched an inning to set the stage for a dramatic comeback late.
Meanwhile, Tampa Bay received scoreless innings of work from Louis Head, Nick Anderson, and David Robertson over the last three frames. While Anderson’s velocity was down, with the right-hander averaging 93.6 mph on his fastball, he did flash 95 mph according to the in-house radar as he continues to build his arm strength. He, however, coaxed not a single whiff. Detroit collected just one hit over the final six innings.
Down by three in the ninth, Manuel Margot singled off Gregory Soto to spark Tampa Bay’s three-run rally. Francisco Mejía walked before Brandon Lowe singled to center, loading the bases. Yandy Díaz — pinch-hitting for Choi — was announced as the next batter, forcing Tigers’ skipper A.J. Hinch to call upon the services of closer Michael Fulmer with the game in the balance.
Díaz looped a first-pitch single to center, scoring Margot and Mejía, and cutting the deficit to a run with none out. Then, on a wild-pitch pitch in the dirt, Lowe advanced to third while Arozarena worked the count full.
Big RAAAAAAAANDY followed with sac-fly to center, tying the game at four. While Meadows also worked the count full, he hit a pop-up that fell on the infield. Jeimer Candelario got a 5-6 fielder’s choice at second with Díaz caught scrambling from one bag to the other. Meadows swiped second, yet Wendle then struck out — ending the threat and sending the game into extra innings.
Enter Andrew Kittredge, who worked a scoreless top of the tenth. With Niko Goodrum at second, Victor Reyes grounded out to third. Lowe robbed Baddoo of a run-scoring hit on a hard-hit liner to second, although Goodrum to move up 90 feet. Even so, Jonathan Schoop struck out to keep the game tied at four apiece.
Finally, in the tenth inning against Bryan Garcia — the eighth hurler for Detroit — and with Wendle at second, Taylor Walls walked on four pitches. Brett Phillips, who went 0-fer on the evening (after popping out in three previous at-bats) worked a 3-1 count before he blasted a mistake fastball for a three-run homer to right — his 13th homer of the season — for a 7-4 walk-off win. As he emphatically flipped his bat and airplaned around the bases, the rest of the team met him at home for an epic bounce-off.
Baseball is fun, indeed.
THE NEW WHAT NEXT
Ryan Yarbrough (8-5, 5.27 ERA) will pitch in some capacity on Saturday, pitching opposite of Tarik Skubal (8-12, 4.21 ERA).
Ryan Yarbrough coughed up seven runs on 10 hits and a walk across 2.1 innings relief innings against Toronto on Monday. He struck out one. The southpaw entered the game in the third inning, after Collin McHugh, and while he was able to wiggle out of the jam McHugh left for him, he didn’t have the same luck in the fourth or fifth frames. Yarbrough needed 77 pitches (46 strikes, 60% strike rate) to record just seven outs, and he’s been tagged for seven earned runs in back-to-back turns while giving up at least five in five of nine outings since the All-Star Break. He owns a 7.50 ERA and a 4.76 FIP, with a 1.52 WHIP, and a 3.00 K/BB through 42 innings over that stretch.
Tarik Skubal allowed a hit and a walk while striking out six over three scoreless versus Tampa Bay on Sunday. The left-hander has now seen short starts in his last two turns, throwing just 49 pitches (34 strikes, 69% strike rate) Sunday after a 50-pitch appearance the week before. Skubal has been fairly effective, although A.J. Hinch is likely to manage the 24-year-old’s workload the rest of the way. He maintains a 4.21 ERA and a 0.00 FIP, with a 1.27 WHIP, and 3.48 K/BB through 139 innings on the season. Key Matchup: Randy Arozarena (1-2)
You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.
RAYS 9/18/21 STARTING LINEUP
- Díaz 3B
- Arozarena LF
- B. Lowe 2B
- Margot RF
- Luplow DH
- Choi 1B
- Zunino C
- Walls SS
- Phillips CF
- Yarbrough LHP
— CF Kevin Kiermaier was placed on the COVID-19 Injured List with general illness/symptoms, and the team has selected RHP Joey Krehbiel from Triple-A Durham. The addition of Krehbiel gives the team a fresh arm in the bullpen.
Krehbiel, 28, maintains a 4.19 ERA and a 4.06 FIP at Durham, with a 10.88 K/9, a 5.78 K/BB, and a 1.09 WHIP across 43.0 innings on the season.