A pair of long skids came to an end Thursday night. Corey Dickerson ended an 0-for-21 stretch at the plate with a three-run two-out homer in the eighth inning, while the Rays ended an 0-for-31 stretch with runners in scoring position. When all was said and done, Tampa Bay took the first of four from Cleveland with a 4–1 victory.
The Rays start the day tied with Seattle for the final Wildcard slot, 2-1/2 games behind New York for the top Wildcard slot, and 7-1/2 games behind Boston in the division. Of the remaining 46 games, 17 are against the Royals, Red Sox and Yankees, while another 10 are against the Mariners and Orioles, teams right behind the Rays in the race.
Cleveland took the initial lead three batters into the ballgame after Francisco Lindor hit a ground rule double down the left field line. Lindor moved to third on a Jason Kipnis groundout to second, then came home on a Jose Ramirez infield single.
Yet never mind the fact that Blake Snell has been plagued by inconsistent performances all season season, the southpaw settled in and retired seven consecutive batters before he allowed a leadoff double to Kipnis in the fourth inning. Snell later walked two batters before striking out Brandon Guyer to end the threat.
Meanwhile, after leaving seven runners on base over the first four innings against Danny Salazar — and going 0-for-their-last-31 wRISP overall — the Rays broke through in the fifth inning to tie the game at one. Lucas Duda walked to start the rally, then went to second on Evan Longoria’s single to left. Logan Morrison, who hit a single to center in his previous at-bat, drove in a run on a base hit to right-center, tying the game at one. But with runners on the corners and none out, Steven Souza Jr. struck out, and Brad Miller grounded into a 4–6–3 double play, ending the threat.
All that glitters isn’t gold, and a defensive miscue allowed Cleveland to threaten once once again when Austin Jackson hit a one-out, seventh inning flair into left-center. What should have been a base hit bounded past both Corey Dickerson and Mallex Smith, allowing Jackson to pull into third. And even though Snell pitched well enough to keep his team in the game, the defense let him down. Snell’s night was done after he posted a 6.1 IP/4 H/1 ER/2 BB/4 K line on 101 pitches (61 strikes).
Snell leaned heavily on his fastball (65 thrown, 36 strikes, five whiffs) to great effect. Even though he wasn’t pitch perfect (pun intended) — he didn’t rack up a ton of strikes, and he left more than a few pitches in the zone — Snell settled in, and more importantly, kept the ball in the park. The left-hander attributed his strong start to the game plan called by Jesus Sucre.
— FOX Sports Florida (@FOXSportsFL) August 11, 2017
Kevin Cash called upon Tommy Hunter to get the final two outs of the frame. The right-hander got pinch-hitter Jay Bruce to pop out to short on the first pitch he saw. Then, after Yan Gomes worked the count full, Hunter struck out Cleveland’s backstop on a 98 mph middle-up fastball.
Hunter followed with a perfect eighth, helping set the table for a dramatic home half of the inning.
The Rays started their go-ahead rally against right-handed relief hurler Nick Goody. Adeiny Hechavarria worked the count full before he singled to left with one out. Hech swiped second, then went to third as the responding throw from Gomes skipped into centerfield.
With the infield in and a runner at third, Smith tried to put down a sacrifice bunt, yet popped it up down the third base line instead. Johnny Urshela charged in and appeared to have caught the ball, but it squirted free from under his arm. Suffice it to say, Smith caught a break. Now with two strikes against him, Smith again tried to lay down a bunt … and again popped it up, this time to first. Three infielders converged but on the ball, yet first baseman Carlos Santana took his eyes off of it, and the balled glanced off of his glove and bounded into foul territory. Regardless of the outcome, it was a bunt strikeout which stranded Hechavarria at third.
Jesus Sucre was hit hard by a pitch, bringing up Dickerson with runners on the corners. Mired in the throes of an extended skid, and an 0-for-4 night at the plate, Dickerson squared up the first pitch he saw and sent it just over the centerfield wall for the go ahead runs. It was his 21st homer of the season, and 69th RBI.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 11, 2017
That’s what I’m expected to do, Corey said after the game. I expect it more than y’all or anybody else expect it out of me…I just tried to be my own self.
Now up by three, with the game on the line, Alex Colome entered in the ninth and plowed through the order for his 34th save of the season. Colome is now tied for the Major League lead in saves with Greg Holland (Rockies). It alsowas Colome’s 71st career save, tying him with Danys Baez for third all time saves leader for Tampa Bay.
The New What Next
The Rays will try to win their second game in a row on Friday with Jacob Faria (5-2, 2.81 ERA, 3.56 FIP) on the mound. He’ll start opposite of Carlos Carrasco (10-5, 4.06 ERA, 3.67 FIP).
Faria rebounded from a loss on Friday against the Brewers, notching a quality start while striking out nine over six innings of work. Unfortunately for the right-hander, the offense was blanked and he was tagged with a loss. Faria has nine quality starts in 11 outings.
Carrasco took the loss after he gave up five runs on six hits and two walks on Sunday. He struck out six. In 12 road starts this season, Carrasco is 7-2 with a 3.44 ERA and 77 strikeouts over 70-2/3 innings. However, the veteran right-hander has now allowed 10 earned runs over his last two starts (7-1/3 innings). He was pulled after just 3-2/3 innings of work against the Rays in May after he allowed five runs on six hits (including a homer) and three walks. Key Matchups: Brad Miller (3-5, HR, RBI), Logan Morrison (2-5, 2B, RBI), Trevor Plouffe (5-17, 2B, 3 RBI, BB)
Rays 8/11/17 Starting Lineup
Souza Jr RF
— Kevin Kiermaier (hip, back) will restart his rehab tomorrow for the Stone Crabs as DH. He Will DH Saturday and Sunday, with the goal to play centerfield on Tuesday. He told Roger Mooney (Tampa Bay Times) his hip is fine, and his back is healthy. Kiermaier hopes to return from the DL during the Rays next homestand, a week from today.
— Matt Andriese (hip) will make a four inning rehab start for Stone Crabs tonight.
— The reports on Jośe De Leon … he was pulled the other day because of elbow tendinitis, and there is no structural damage. He left a Class-A rehab start with forearm tightness.