The Tampa Bay Rays put to bed their ugliest losing skid of the last few years on Monday, eking out a 5-4 win against the Chicago White Sox — their first win since Opening Day.
For the second straight game Tampa Bay collected double-digits in hits, thanks in part to outfielder Mallex Smith who went 4-for-4 with two stolen bases.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) April 10, 2018
All told, Tampa Bay amassed a season-high 14 hits, including multi-hit games from the aforementioned Smith, Matt Duffy, Joey Wendle, and Wilson Ramos.
The Rays struck first and took a 1-0 lead in the opening frame after Carlos Gomez singled with two outs, moved to second on a walk to C.J. Cron, then came home on an infield single by Duffy.
Be that as it may, the White Sox answered in the bottom of the inning against Chris Archer, who was bereft of command right out the gate. Archer allowed a run to cross the plate without the benefit of a hit — walking a pair of batters and hitting another to load the bases, before he allowed a sac-fly to Yolmer Sanchez.
Just the 1 run allowed by #Rays Archer, who walked 2, hit 1 and gave up a sac fly. But, hey, he still has a no-hitter going
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) April 9, 2018
In the third inning, Archer was able to work around a Yoan Moncada leadoff double, keeping the score knotted at one until the top of the fourth.
Daniel Robertson started the rally when he worked a one-out free pass before he advanced to second base on a wild-pitch. The baseball gods allegedly took pity upon the Rays and allowed Smith to steal back the lead with an RBI triple to center, his second hit of the day.
Then in the top of the fifth inning, Joey Wendle hit a 2-0 leadoff laser-shot to right, his first homer of the season.
.@joeywendle gets all of one for his first home run as a member of the @RaysBaseball! Watch all the action against the White Sox live on FOX Sports Sun and FOX Sports Go! #RaysUp #MLB pic.twitter.com/myMmG64s8m
— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) April 9, 2018
Later in the inning, Matt Duffy singled home Gomez (who reached on a double) giving the Rays a three-run lead — their biggest lead of the day. The difference didn’t last long, however.
Archer couldn’t put together that all important shutdown inning, ultimately allowing a two-out, two-run homer to Nick Delmonico on a hanging 0-2 slider, bringing the ChiSox within a run.
Fortunately enough, the Rays were able to add an important insurance run in the sixth inning after Denard Span singled home Smith from third base. The extra tally proved crucial, as Archer allowed an RBI double to Omar Narvaez in the home half of the frame, once again making it a one-run contest. Archer’s day was done.
Chaz Roe entered in relief and got the final out in the sixth and the first out of the seventh. Jose Alvarado followed and picked up the second out before Sergio Romo finished out the frame.
Romo took the mound once more in the eighth and struck out a pair of batters, putting an end to yet another White Sox rally, and setting the stage for a dramatic ninth.
Brett Phillips (DRaysBay) did an excellent job narrating what could have been another disastrous ninth inning, so without further adieux…
Colome did his darnedest to give this game away in the ninth. I mean it, he really, really did. First off, he walked Jose Abreu, who was 1-for-6 with 4 K’s against Colome lifetime. Then, he allowed a hit to Nicky Delmonico to put men on first and second. Colome was missing his spots, and missing badly. After going ahead 0-2 to the next batter (who was swinging away and not bunting), Colome just decided to do his work for him and advance the batters anyway. A wild pitch put them at second and third with no outs. At this point I nearly turned the game off, but I’m glad I didn’t. Because like I said before, this was the game nobody wanted to win.
Delmonico chopped a weak ball back to Colome for the first out. Then Cash pulled the infield in, and put a very strange shift on Tim Anderson, with three men on the left side pulled in. You could see the game-winning hit coming a mile away. Except, as it turns out, this was a perfect defensive alignment. Like clockwork, Anderson chopped it right to Duffy, who almost tagged out Abreu at third with a modest lead. Dewayne Staats then said “Colome would really like a ground ball to first base here” and, as if by magic, three seconds later Leury Garcia chopped an easy grounder to C.J. Cron at first, sealing the Rays win. It happened by the skin of their teeth, and it happened basically because of some offensive ineptitude by a Chicago team in full-rebuild…but it happened.
The New What Next
The Rays will play the second game of the series on Tuesday, when Blake Snell (0-1, 5.00 ERA) takes the mound opposite of Carson Fulmer (0-0, 5.40 ERA).
Snell was tagged with a loss after he allowed five runs on four hits and three walks over 3-1/3 innings Wednesday. He struck out five. Snell allowed a leadoff single to Brett Gardner, then served up a mammoth two-run homer to Giancarlo Stanton two batters later. The southpaw allowed another two-run shot in the third inning — this time to Gary Sanchez — before he was chased after recording just 10 outs on 90 pitches.
Fulmer was impressive in his season debut last Wednesday, giving up three runs in five innings while walking just one. He struck out five. Fulmer has above-average arm speed and relies primarily on a 91 mph fastball with modest arm-side run and late life, a big breaking 11-5 curveball with significant depth, an 87 mph cutter with average movement and average control, and a show me changeup that he throws to lefties. He does have occasional inconsistency at release, and sometimes over-throws. This will be Fulmer’s first start against Tampa Bay.
Rays 4/10/18 Starting Lineup
— Rays of hope…
Tampa Bay has improved its wRISP batting average over the course of the first three series, from .176 in the Opening Series to .235 against the Yankees, then .240 again vs Boston. If Monday’s game is any indication, the Rays could be getting better in the batter’s box, as they went 5-15 wRISP for a .333 batter’s average.
What’s more, the Rays luck could be improving. The Rays put up a .385 BABIP against Boston on Sunday, and a .419 BABIP on Monday on the south side of Chicago. This, after they performed to an unlucky .267 BABIP over the first nine games of the season.