Tampa Bay broke out first in the third inning. With the game knotted at zero, Brad Miller turned on an outside pitch and deposited it just to the right of the Rays tank, in deep right-center.The homer was 12th of the season for Miller — a new career high. It’s also three shy of the single season record by a Rays shortstop, set by Julio Lugo set in 2003.
However, Los Angeles answered with a two-out rally a half inning later. Moore coaxed a grounder out of CJ Cron, and a pop fly to center out of Johnny Giavotella, for the first two outs of the frame. The lefty got ahead of Jefry Marte before hitting him on the left knee with a 1-2 fastball. Marte then moved into scoring position on a walk of Jett Bandy, putting two on with two out. Two pitches later, Andrelton Simmons doubled to deep left field, scoring Marte and sending Bandy to third. Fortunately Moore coaxed a fly-ball from Shane Robinson to avoid any further damage.
The game wasn’t tied for long though; Logan Morrison went yard in the bottom of the fourth, giving Tampa Bay a one-run lead once again.
Watch some early fireworks. #RaysUp
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 4, 2016
It was Morrison’s ninth homer this season.
Yet on the first pitch of the sixth inning, Moore promptly gave up a leadoff homer into the left-field seats, tying the game once again. MattyMoe wasn’t out of the woods just yet, as Bandy slashed an 0-2 double to left. After Simmons sacrificed Bandy to third, the Rays drew the infield in. Robinson grounded wide of third, and Evan Longoria quickly fielded the ball and threw home to catch the Angels catcher in a rundown.
A pickle for your BBQ. pic.twitter.com/i8ovCPKR8Q
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 4, 2016
Robinson eventually advanced to second as Bandy was tagged out. And while he had a golden opportunity to put the Angels ahead, Yunel Escobar curtailed the threat with an inning ending comebacker.
When the Rays were going well, they showed the ability to answer the opposing team an inning or two later. They did just that Monday afternoon, scoring a pair of runs in the bottom half of the sixth against reliever Fernando Salas. Miller started the rally with a single to left, then advanced to second on Evan Longoria’s groundout to first. Morrison plated Miller on an opposite field single to retake the lead. Then after Brandon Guyer flew out to center, Steven Souza Jr. knuckled a double into the left-field corner, allowing Morrison to rumble all the way home from first, pushing the lead to two.
Moore was tasked with preserving the lead in what would be his final 2/3 of an inning of work. Moore got Mike Trout to line out to center, and Albert Pujols to foul out to third for the first two outs of the seventh. After 113 pitches (74 strikes) and 6-2/3 innings of work, Kevin Cash pulled the southpaw in favor of Erasmo Ramirez. Moore now has gone at least six innings in six consecutive starts.
Ramirez induced a whiffy strikeout of Cron (on a changeup in the upper part of the zone) for the final out of the frame. Erasmo took the mound again in the eighth and worked around a leadoff single for a scoreless inning, which included a swinging strikeout of Bandy.
With the game on the line in the final inning of play, Cash turned to LHP Dana Eveland. Suffice it to say, Cash’s decision was suspect at best, after all, Eveland had pitched with a lead only three times this season, and all were of at least four runs. One shouldn’t overlook Eveland’s bloated 7.58 ERA/6.01 FIP, and the propensity to let things spiral out of control. Oy vey. What wasn’t known at the time, Eveland would only face once batter — Shane Robinson.
Eveland quickly got ahead of Robinson 0-2, then dealt the death blow: an inside 83 mph slider that tailed behind Robinson’s back foot. The Angels outfielder couldn’t hold up, and went down swinging.
Ryan Garton was tasked with collecting the final two outs of the contest. While Garton walked Escobar on a full-count fastball, that just missed the outside corner, he came back and fanned Trout for out numero dos.
Escobar swiped second on defensive indifference just before Pujols hit a bullet off a diving Longoria’s glove. Call it luck, and much to the chagrin of Pujols, the ball stayed on the infield after it hit third base umpire Mike Estabrook. Finally Garton got Cron to pop out in foul territory, ending the game and giving the righty his first MLB save.
Cash spoke about his decision to go with a tandem of hurlers in the ninth, saying he wanted Eveland to face the right-handed Robinson because he felt that would prevent Angels manager Mike Scioscia from using lefty Kole Calhoun as a pinch-hitter. He then called for Garton based on the assumption that Scioscia wouldn’t use Calhoun since the Angels were back to the top of the order.
The New What Next
The Rays will attempt the second consecutive takedown of the Angels on Tuesday when Jake Odorizzi (3-3, 3.91 ERA) pitches opposite of The Freak (1-2, 6.75 ERA). Odorizzi has not won in nine straight starts at Tropicana Field — the longest home winless streak of his career, and the longest of a Rays pitcher to start a season since 2007 (Scott Kazmir, 0-3 in 10 starts). Lincecum will make his fourth start since resuming his pitching career. He faced the Rays once in his career (2013), allowing one run in seven innings as a starter with the Giants. You can read about the pitching matchup in our series preview.
Rays 7/5/16 Starting Lineup
— The Rays have activated RHP Alex Colome from the 15-day DL. In doing so, RHP Danny Farquhar has been optioned back to Triple-A Durham.
— Rays starters have now combined for 3.16 ERA/3.57 FIP/.204 BA/.271 BABIP/9.91 K9 line over the last seven days (42-2/3 innings of work).
— According to a bevy of tweets in my feed, outfielder Kevin Kiermaier will take the next big step in his recovery process this week. Kiermaier is slated to take batting practice either Wednesday or Thursday at Tropicana Field. The Outlaw will then head to Boston with the team, where he will workout ahead of the All-Star Break — when he is slated to play his rehab games. The Gold Glove winning outfielder is eyeing the first series after the break (vs. the Baltimore Orioles) for his return.
In other injury news, Steve Pearce (strained hamstring) told reporters he feels “great” and also is expecting to return after the All-Star Break.
— Three. More. Days. Hope to see you all at Green Bench Brewing Company this Friday!