The Tampa Bay Rays came from behind 3-0 to win by one run for the second consecutive day. Tampa Bay took 2-of-3 from the first place Mets, as Richie Shaffer (3-3, HR, 3 runs) was the undisputed hero of the game after putting together an impressive day at the plate. At .500 once again (55-55), Tampa Bay won a second straight series for the first time since June 15 – June 21.
Tampa Bay fell behind early, in the second inning, after Chris Archer walked four batters and allowed three two-out runs. After walking and fanning two to begin the inning, Archer walked number nine hitter Kevin Plawecki and Curtis Granderson to force home a run. Daniel Murphy followed with a two-RBI base hit to right for a three-run advantage. Archer threw an incredibly inefficient 44 pitches by the time the frame ended. The lack of control was uncharacteristic for Chris. He came into the game with a just above two BB/9.
Yet the Rays ace settled down, and didn’t walk another or allow a runner into scoring position from then on. With skipper Kevin Cash acknowledging that the tandem of Jake McGee and Brad Boxberger wouldn’t throw three days in a row, it was important for Archer to get through six innings if at all possible. And while he tossed 90 pitches through the front four, the righty got the job done and finished the day at 116. He gave up a total of four hits while striking out 10.
Meanwhile, in the third inning, the Rays took advantage of a Mets gaffe to get on the board against Bartolo Colon. Shaffer started the frame with a single to right. Then with one out, former Ray Kelly Johnson misplayed Rene Rivera’s liner to right into a double, and John Jaso followed with a well-struck sacrifice-fly to the warning track in center.
Tampa Bay knotted the game at three apiece in the fifth inning after Shaffer singled to left. Brandon Guyer did the same, and Rivera sacrificed the runners into scoring position with a beautifully executed bunt to the left side of the infield. Jaso capped the scoring in the frame by lining a double to the left-center gap.
Xavier Cedeno followed Archer in the seventh by working around an infield hit to put together his 11th straight scoreless appearance. In the bottom of the frame, Shaffer put together his most impressive at-bat of his young career.
Not wanting to be beat for a third time, Richie saw four straight sliders from Colon — two caught the zone, yet Shaffer didn’t bite on the two that were well off the plate.
With the count squared, Colon threw an 87 mph fastball on the inner half of the plate. Shaffer crushed the errant heater, gladly depositing it into the left-field seats.
Shaffer became the first Ray with at least three hits and a homer in his Tropicana Field debut since Akinori Iwamura in 2007.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) August 9, 2015
Steve Geltz worked around a leadoff single in the eighth, and Jake McGee, pitching on a third straight day entered for the ninth. While he hit Juan Lagares with one out in the ninth, McGee struck out Plawecki and forced Granderson into ground ball out to second to end the game. For the lefty, it was his sixth save of the season.
After an off-day Monday, Tampa Bay will begin a two-game Interleague series with the Atlanta Braves at Tropicana Field on Tuesday.
— Don’t forget, just four days until our next watch party at Green Bench Brewing Company. First pitch is at 8:05, hope to see you there!
— Ian Malinowski (DRaysBay) writes, after coming back from the disabled list, Tampa Bay Rays reliever Kirby Yates has given up home runs at a remarkable rate. Will it continue? Probably not.