The Rays tallied a first inning run and never looked back, and it all started with Logan Forsythe, who led off the game with a single to right. Forsythe moved to second on a swinging bunt by Brad Miller, then to third when Evan Longoria slashed a hard hit grounder, but right at Jed Lowrie at second. Corey Dickerson plated the first run on a dribbler through the hole at second, allowing Forsythe to easily trot home as the ball slowly made its way into right field.
That lead was extended in the second after Tim Beckham, who — on a lark — slotted into the first baseman’s role, homered to left off Sonny Gray. It was Beckham’s fourth homer this season. More on his spot start in Noteworthiness (below).
Yet Matt Moore allowed the lead to evaporate in the bottom of the second. Danny Valencia started the rally with a single to center, and Billy Butler singled with one out to put a pair of runners on base. Even though Moore coaxed a popper out of Stephen Vogt, Jake Smolinski turned on a fastball that caught to much of the plate, and deposited it into left field to give Oakland a one-run lead. It was the 20th homer off Moore this season.
However, Tampa Bay got a run back when Corey Dickerson took an elevated fastball to left, tying the game at three.
.@MCoreyDickerson has a team-high 30 road RBI.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 22, 2016
But it was in the fifth inning when the Rays broke the game open, ultimately sinking Gray and the Athletics. Beckham started the rally with a single to center, giving him hits in eight consecutive at-bats, and allowing him to reach base in nine straight plate appearances — both marks tied franchise records (Ty Wigginton in 2007 and Aubrey Huff in 2004; Logan Forsythe in 2015 and BJ Upton in 2011 reached in nine straight plate appearances).
#Rays Beckham ties team record with hits in 8 straight at-bats. Matches Ty Wigginton and Aubrey Huff
— Marc Topkin (@TBTimes_Rays) July 22, 2016
Luke Maile was next in the batter’s box, and he blooped a single to right, putting two aboard.
After Beckham advanced 90 feet on a wild pitch, Forsythe doubled on a ball that hit the front edge of second base, scoring a run and allowing Maile to move into third. Wanting terribly to join in on the fun, Brad Miller plated another run on a single to right, before Evan Longoria pushed the advantage to three runs on a base hit to left. (Longoria got caught in a rundown that led to an out) Dickerson followed with a sacrifice-fly in foul territory in left, driving in Miller to make it a 7-3 ballgame.
Prior to Thursday, the Rays hadn’t scored four runs or more in an inning in three straight games since May 6-8, 2013.
Moore allowed the lead to stand. The southpaw featured a zippy fastball, that played well at the bottom of the zone, and broke off some excellent curveballs (24 total/16 strikes/eight whiffs). Moore allowed three runs on four hits and two walks over seven innings, fanning six and earning a road victory for the first time this season. He also worked at least six innings for the ninth consecutive outing; his 10th quality start this season.
After Moore, Kevin Jepsen and Xavier Cedeno paired up for a perfect eighth. Erasmo Ramirez was immediately pulled from the game after he allowed a ninth inning hit to Danny Valencia, and plunked Khris Davis on the elbow with a fastball. Now with the game on the line, Alex Colome entered took the mound and got three outs for his 21st save in 21 opportunities — their longest streak since Fernado Rodney rattled off 22 straight 2012.
The Rays have now won three straight for first time since June 12-15.
The New What Next
Tampa Bay looks to continue its winning ways Friday night, when RHP Jake Odorizzi (4-5, 4.39 ERA) takes the mound opposite of LHP Sean Manaea (3-5, 5.13 ERA). Odorizzi snapped a six-start winless skid on Sunday in a six inning win over the Orioles. It was just the eighth time in 20 starts that Odorizzi was able to post six innings of work. He is 0-2 with 6.14 ERA in three starts against the Athletics. Manaea is coming off a five-inning relief outing on Sunday. He is 1-1 with a 3.18 ERA in four games since being activated from the disabled list; is 3-2 with a 3.93 ERA at home, and 0-3 with a 7.89 ERA away O.Co Coliseum. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 7/21/16 Starting Lineup
— Beckham made a pinch start at first due to inflammation in Logan Morrison’s right wrist/forearm, and slight fatigue in Steve Pearce’s right hamstring.
The Rays first baseman saw a doctor Thursday night in Oakland as a result of the lingering inflammation that started bothering him in the first game after the All-Star Break.
“It slowly started building and getting worse and worse,” he told Marc Topkin (Tampa Bay Times).
After receiving an injection in his wrist, Morrison is likely to return in the next day or two. The team does not anticipate a stint on the disabled list.
As noted by Topkin, Morrison’s status factored into the decision to bring Pearce back Tuesday after just two rehab games following a monthlong DL stint for a hamstring strain. Pearce said after playing two games in Colorado he was feeling something in the hamstring — “not barking, just tired” — so the Rays opted to be cautious.
— Of all the Rays’ hurlers mired in trade speculation, it’s Moore that I want to see moved the least. Move Drew Smyly to mitigate a future shoulder injury? Sure. Trade Jake Odorizzi, and allow Matt Andriese to slot back into a starter’s role? Why not?! Above all though, keep the lefty with the organization.
— If you’re keeping track, Tampa Bay now must go 48-19 (.716 baseball) from here on out for the Rays to have a shot at an AL wildcard berth.