The Tampa Bay Rays scored three early runs on Friday, thanks to the tandem of Logan Morrison and Kevin Kiermaier, while Blake Snell put together another solid start. The Rays held on for a 3-1 win over the ChiSox, and got back to the .500 mark for the 21st time this season.
Morrison helped put the Rays on the board, and get off to a good start. Three batters after Kiermaier led off the game with a line drive single into center, the first baseman blasted a two-out two-run homer to right-center off Reynaldo Lopez.
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The homer came on the fifth pitch of the at-bat — an elevated 84 mph changeup on the outer edge of the plate. Morrison somehow turned on the pitch, and sent it out of the confines of Comisky Park (or whatever it’s called now) for his 34th home run of the season (his fifth in as many games).
The White Sox answered in the second inning though, after Kevan Smith doubled then came around to score on a two-out throwing error from Morrison to Blake Snell, who was covering first. Leury Garcia charged out of the box as Morrison yanked his throw past first, allowing the run to score all the way from second. The Rays were able to retake a two-run margin a half an inning later.
Kiermaier, Evan Longoria and Morrison all singled — sandwiched around a Lucas Duda foul-out — with the final hit pushing the advantage to 3-1. From there, Lopez and Chicago’s bullpen kept the wolves at bay. Only two Rays reached on a walk and a hit — Morrison’s third of the game — after the third inning.
Meanwhile Snell also pitched well. At times he worked ahead of batters, while at others he fell behind. He, however, did a good job to battle and get back into those at-bats. Snell took advantage of an aggressive White Sox lineup, although he wasn’t dominant per se. In all fairness, the southpaw was helped in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings by ground ball double plays — each of which was started by Adeiny Hechavarria.
Hech makes plays, we make GIFs. 🐾 pic.twitter.com/2nnkjlGeZw
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) September 2, 2017
Yet Snell still tossed 6-2/3 innings on an efficient 85 pitches, and was able to hand the ball to three relievers that combined to shut down Chicago.
The south siders had one last shot to overtake the Rays in the seventh inning. With two out and none on, Snell was lifted after a two-out walk Garcia. Steve Cishek, who still has not allowed a run with Tampa Bay, wild pitched Garcia to second, then walked Adam Engel. As if the moment couldn’t get any more tense, Cishek allowed a hit to right to Yolmer Sanchez, who pulled a first pitch fastball into right-field to load the bases. But even though Tim Anderson smoked a liner to short, he did so right at Hechavarria to end the inning.
After that, the White Sox did not have another batter reach.
Tommy Hunter posted a perfect eighth, while Alex Colome did the same in the ninth for his MLB-leading 41st save … of course with a requisite three wild pitches in three at-bats.
The New What Next
Chris Archer (9-7, 3.66 ERA, 3.17 FIP) will take the mound for the Rays in the second game of the series, pitching opposite of Carlos Rodon (2-5, 4.27 ERA, 4.74 FIP).
Archer limited the Cardinals to one run on five hits over seven innings on Sunday. The only blemish on the right-hander’s ledger was a seventh-inning home run by Kolten Wong. Part of his recent spate of dominance has to do with the fact that Archer is walking fewer batters and striking more of them out, posting a 69/9 K/BB in his last 50-1/3 innings of work over his past seven starts. He is 2-0, but with a 5.40 ERA in four games (three starts) on the south side of Chicago, and 3-1 with a 3.86 ERA in six starts against the White Sox.
Rodon gave up five runs on seven hits over five innings against Detroit in his last turn, his shortest start since July 25. The southpaw held the Tigers scoreless over the first two frames before allowing all five of his runs over the next two, leading to his fifth loss of the season. The outing snapped a string of five consecutive starts in which he had allowed two earned runs or fewer, although it’s difficult for him to pick up any wins with the White Sox offense. This season he has relied upon a whiffy 94mph four-seam fastball, a hard 85 mph slider, and a 93mph sinker, while also mixing in an 83mph changeup with natural sinking action. Key Matchups: Peter Bourjos (1-3, 2B), Evan Longoria (2-3, 2B, HR, RBI)
Rays 9/2/17 Starting Lineup
— INF Taylor Featherston, designated for assignment by the Rays on Monday, cleared waivers and was outrighted back to Triple-A Durham.