Move over, Mickey Mantle, there’s a new Wanderkind in town. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

Down by six runs after two innings on Monday, the Tampa Bay Rays did something they’ve been wont to do all season: come from behind and win. They battled back to tie the game in the ninth inning, then won the contest in 10 innings, 11-10, in Boston.

At 87-51 on the season, the Rays ended the day 36-games above .500 and with their largest ever lead in the American League East of 8.5 games with 24 games left to play.

Tampa Bay took the initial lead in the opening frame against Chris Sale, who was due a regression given that he entered the series with a 2.53 ERA but a 4.48 FIP. Wander Franco tripled to centerfield with one out, then scored on Nelson Cruz’s single to center. The Rays eventually loaded the bases on infield hits by Yandy Díaz and Manuel Margot. However, Austin Meadows struck out to end the threat.

Franco now has reached base in 36 consecutive games, tying Mickey Mantle (1951-52) for the second-longest streak by a player 20 years of age or younger.

Meanwhile, Ryan Yarbrough got the start Monday and allowed seven runs over the first two frames, and threw 64 pitches (44 strikes, 69% strike rate, 8% SwStr%) during his time on the mound. It was an ugly start for Yarbrough, who now maintains a 7.38 ERA lifetime against Boston (53 ERA in 64.2 innings of work).

While a six-run deficit seems insurmountable to most, the Rays stayed in the game thanks to strong relief work by Shawn Armstrong, who threw two scoreless frames; Adam Conley, who also kept Boston off the board across one inning of work; and David Robertson, who did the same across one inning of work punctuated by three punchouts.

Holding Boston scoreless was important because it allowed the Rays to get back into the game in the fourth inning — subsequently knocking Sale out of the contest …. well, with a little help from the Red Sox.

Sale quickly got the first two batters in the frame. Yet, with two outs, Taylor Walls singled off the glove of Rafael Devers at third, while Randy Arozarena and Franco followed with base hits to load the bases. Cruz lifted a fly ball into deep center, yet Alex Verdugo — fighting the sun — had the ball go into and out of his glove for a three-base error, which was compounded by Taylor Motter, who made an errant relay throw allowing Cruz to cross the plate for a Little League grand slam.

Sale was chased in the 30-pitch inning after he allowed back-to-back base hits to Díaz and Jordan Luplow. Garrett Richards entered, and Margot hit a ball on the screws into deep center, but Verdugo made a terrific backhanded catch to keep Boston in front.

From then on, Tampa Bay had chances to plate more runs. But each time they scored Boston answered. The Rays got within a run in the sixth inning on singles by Franco, Díaz, and Luplow, however, Devers took away a hit from Margot to end the inning. Then, in the bottom of the sixth, Motter tripled off the glove of Margot in center. Renfroe drove him in on a single off J.T. Chargois to make it 8-6.

In the top of the seventh, Mike Zunino — pinch-hitting for Francisco Mejía — singled off the wall in left and was safe at second when Motter dropped the throw in from JD Martinez for an error. Arozarena responded with a single to center off Adam Ottavino to cut the Red Sox lead to a run.

But, in the bottom of the seventh, Jonathan Arauz homered to right off J.P. Feyereisen. Be that as it may, Cruz answered in the Rays half of the eighth with a blast over the wall, and out of the stadium, off Ottavino, making it 9-8.

The Rays were relatively quiet until the ninth inning when they tied the game for the first time since the first. Meadows hit an inside-the-park home run off Garrett Richards to tie the game at nine. It was Meadows’ 24th homer of the season and his 97th RBI on his ’21 campaign.

Boston found itself with a great opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the ninth when pinch-hitter Travis Shaw led off the frame by slicing a ground-rule double into left, which bounced into the stands, off Collin McHugh. After Verdugo was walked intentionally, Christian Vazquez popped out on a bunt attempt. Still, number nine hitter Jonathan Arauz capped the scoreless frame by grounding into a 5-6-3 double play to end the frame.

Then with Arozarena at second in the 10th inning, Cruz lashed a single to right off Garrett Whitlock, scoring big RAAAAAAAANDY for a one-run advantage. Cruz moved up to second on Renfroe’s late throw into second. Pinch-hitter Brandon Lowe followed with an RBI base hit for a two-run lead.

McHugh, who had worked into and out of trouble in the ninth inning, took the mound again in the 10th. Arauz was balked up to third before Jose Iglesias singled to right, capping the scoring on the day. Kyle Schwarber struck out, yet Renfroe hit a hard grounder to third that Joey Wendle bobbled for an error — putting the winning run on the base paths. Martinez lined into shallow right, forcing the runners to hold up. However, Devers, who leads the team with 101 RBI, walked to load the bases in an at-bat that McHugh clearly wasn’t going to give him a pitch to hit. Finally, Kevin Plawecki pinch-hit and grounded to short, ending one of the wildest games on record.

Like I’ve said all year, we just find a way. Even being down pretty big early, we just continued to grind at-bats and have each other’s backs. Obviously it worked out for us … and hopefully we can keep it going.

— Austin Meadows


Drew Rasmussen (1-1, 3.38 ERA) will get the start in the second game of the series, pitching opposite of left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez (11-7, 4.88 ERA).

Drew Rasmussen allowed one run on three hits and no walks while striking out five across four innings Wednesday against the Red Sox. The 26-year-old held his own, with the only blemish coming as a result of a second-inning RBI single by Christian Vazquez. Since being moved from the bullpen to the starting rotation on August 12, Rasmussen has posted an impressive 1.59 ERA and 0.76 WHIP over 17 innings. Overall, the right-hander maintains a 3.38 ERA and a 3.08 FIP, with a 1.20 WHIP, and a 2.74 K/BB across 56.0 innings.

Eduardo Rodriguez pitched six-plus scoreless innings against the Rays on Thursday, allowing four hits and one walk, with six strikeouts. After allowing a combined eight runs across his last two turns, Rodriguez bounced back nicely in what was his third scoreless start in his last six outings. It was an impressive showing for a left-hander who allowed only five baserunners before being pulled with two runners on in the seventh inning. Overall, he maintains a 4.88 ERA and a 3.41 FIP, with a 1.36 WHIP, and a 4.00 K/BB across 132.2 innings. Key Matchups: Randy Arozarena (3-9), Yandy Díaz (7-15, 2B, 2BB), Brandon Lowe (4-13, 3 HR, 4 RBI), Manuel Margot (3-10), Francisco Mejía (2-5, BB, RBI)

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup and Noteworthiness are below.


  1. Arozarena LF
  2. Franco SS
  3. Cruz DH
  4. Díaz 3B
  5. Luplow 1B
  6. Margot RF
  7. Wendle 2B
  8. Zunino C
  9. Kiermaier CF
  10. Rasmussen RHP


— Citing a need for fresh arms in the ‘pen, Tampa Bay recalled pitcher Louis Head from Triple-A Durham, and optioned Taylor Walls back to the Bulls, giving the club 16 pitchers and 12 position players for the time being.

— RHP Nick Anderson, who is close to returning from the 60-Day IL which has shelved him for the entire season, will make another appearance for Triple-A Durham on Wednesday.

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