Tommy Pham scored the Rays only run Friday night. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

The Rays dropped a tight extra inning contest to open the critical three-game set against the Athletics on Friday, as Oakland defeated Tampa Bay, 2-1. Tampa Bay starts the day nine-games back in the AL Wildcard race with 16 left to play, with the loss diminishing their already slim hopes of playing relevant baseball in October.

We understood where we were, where we stood, third baseman Matt Duffy said after the game. I guess still mathematically there’s hope. We understood how big each one of these games was. A little discouraging.

But we still have two more games. And there’s a lot to play for, for everybody in this room really other than chasing down these guys, so we’re still going to go out there with the same mindset.

Diego Castillo opened the game and delivered two perfect innings, striking out four. Ryan Stanek worked around a walk for a scoreless third, setting up Ryan Yarbrough to pitch the bulk of the innings.

Yet Oakland opened the scoring against Yarbrough in the top of the fourth, when Matt Chapman doubled with one out and scored on a two-out infield single from Matt Olson, that squirted just beneath the glove of a diving Willy Adames. Nevertheless, the Rays answered in the bottom of the inning when Tommy Pham reached on a two-out to out bloop double to center and Joey Wendle singled to left, scoring Pham and tying the game.

Former Ray Edwin Jackson worked five strong innings for Oakland before Shawn Kelly tightroped his way through a scoreless sixth when Tampa Bay had a golden opportunity to break the tie.

Mallex Smith led off the inning with an infield single before Matt Duffy laid down a bunt which the Athletics struggled to field, putting runners on first and second. The right-handed reliever wild pitched both runners into scoring position, but Ji-Man Choi struck out and Pham popped out leaving the Rays with one out to play with against Oakland’s mighty ‘pen. After Wendle was intentionally walked, Willy Adames struck out looking to end the frame.

The at-bat of the game, Adames said, and I didn’t get the job done.

Chaz Roe, Adam Kolarek, and Andrew Kittredge got key outs in the middle innings to keep the Rays within striking distance, and Jose Alvarado struck out the side in a perfect eighth.

For the Athletics, Ryan Buchter and Lou Trivino kept Tampa Bay off the board in the seventh and eighth innings.

Sergio Romo followed with his first appearance since September 4th, retiring Oakland in order in the ninth on 12 pitches. Meanwhile, Blake Treinen took the mound in the ninth for Oakland and hit Brandon Lowe with one out. Lowe advanced to second when Kiermaier grounded out to first, and the Rays got a second chance when Chad Pinder tripped over the left-field bullpen mound after chasing down Jake Bauers’ popper in foul territory. But Bauers popped out to send the game into extra innings.

Instead of leaning on Romo in the top of the tenth, Rays skipper Kevin Cash called on Jaime Schultz who surrendered the go-ahead homer to Davis to open the inning.

I definitely didn’t execute, Schultz said after the game. My plan is to go up in the, and I let it leak out over the plate right to his strength. He is a threat anytime. You’ve got to be cautious. The guy has 41 home runs, now 42.

All told, the Rays used nine pitchers and allowed only three hits, although the third hit proved costly.

Everything bullpen-wise worked really well; we didn’t get any points for them, Cash said.

Treinen returned to the mound for the tenth and retired the Rays in order to end the game.

The New What Next

The Rays and Athletics will continue this important series Saturday evening at Tropicana Field. Ryne Stanek (2-3, 2.58 ERA) is slated to open the game for Tampa Bay while Yonny Chirinos (4-5, 3.81 ERA) will likely throw the bulk of the innings. Like the Rays, Bob Melvin will utilize the opener strategy with Liam Hendriks (0-1, 5.94 ERA) taking the mound for Oakland.

Stanek will make his 52nd appearance of the season (his 26th start). The right-hander threw one scoreless inning with a walk on Friday night.

Chirinos allowed three earned runs on seven hits across 6-1/3 quality innings in a win over Baltimore on Sunday. He struck out six. Chirinos turned in the equivalent of a quality start, getting through his six-plus frames on an efficient 94 pitches (59 strikes, 63% strike rate, 16/25 first-pitch strikes). The right-hander has generated mixed results since assuming his current role, but he’s been sharper of late — considering Sunday’s line, Chirinos has allowed four earned runs over 13-1/3 innings while generating a 3.67 K/BB over his last two turns on the mound.

Hendriks will make his fifth start of the season in the opener role. The right-hander has allowed just one hit and no runs in his last three outings in that capacity, but Hendriks is 0-1 with a 3.72 ERA in 19-1/3 innings in his career against Tampa Bay.

Rays 9/15/18 Starting Lineup

Smith RF
Duffy 3B
Choi DH
Pham LF
Wendle SS
Kiermaier CF
Lowe 2B
Bauers 1B
Ciuffo C
Stanek RHP

You can read about the series in our preview.

The New What Next: Rays vs. Athletics, part two — a series preview

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