The Tampa Bay Rays picked up right where they left off Friday night, beating the Los Angeles Angels in extra innings, 2–1. The Rays moved five games over .500 for the first time this season with the their seventh extra-inning victory this season. Moreover, with the Rays’ win and the Yankees’ loss, Tampa Bay now claims sole possession of second place in the AL East.
Tampa Bay struck first in the first inning when Evan Longoria hit a solo no doubter to left, his 13th homer of the season.
Evan Longoria connects for a solo home run to left-center field to open the scoring for the Rays in the top of the 1st inning
However, Los Angeles countered in the bottom of the second when Albert Pujols homered to center — a long ball that just eluded the glove of a leaping Mallex Smith at the wall.
Nolasco settled in against the Rays from there, allowing just one base runner over the next five innings on a Smith walk in the third.
In the Rays corner though, Faria was also tough even without his best stuff. The rookie stranded runners in scoring position in the second, third and fourth innings — holding the Angels to 0-for-6 wRISP in those spots.
Faria did receive some help in the third inning, when Wilson Ramos gunned down Cameron Maybin as he attempted to swipe second. Ramos’ throw almost sailed past Adeiny Hechavarría, who somehow was able to simultaneously save the ball from hurling into centerfield, and tag the foot of Maybin as he slid.
Hech! 👀 pic.twitter.com/MDCyqP5MNa
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 15, 2017
It was a highly improbable play that Hechavarría made look routine.
Brad Miller, on the other hand, had the opportunity to do the same against Mike Trout as he stole second after reaching on a single to center. Miller made no attempt of a tag on a throw from Ramos that beat Trout to the bag. It was a lackadaisical play by the infielder, and the first of three gaffes on the night.
Faria finally settled down at the end of the fourth inning, after he coaxed a bases loaded popper from Maybin that ended the frame. That started a stretch where the cool-as-a-cucumber right-hander retired seven consecutive batters, and nine of his final ten.
When all was said and done, Faria gave up just a run, struck out four, scattered five hits, two walks, and hit a batter. He now has thrown quality starts in the first seven outings of his MLB career. Faria went the first 6-2/3 innings, and Tommy Hunter got the next four outs. That set the stage for Brad Boxberger, who plowed through the Angels on just 12 pitches in the ninth inning.
The Rays were able to break the deadlock in the top of the 10th against Cam Bedrosian, the fourth Angels hurler. The Buffalo started the rally with a rocket to left, before Miller hit a towering double off the wall in right-center — scoring Ramos from first as he was off on contact with two outs.
— Tampa Bay Rays (@RaysBaseball) July 15, 2017
Up by a run, Alex Colome finished off the contest with a perfect bottom of the tenth, punctuated by a three pitch strikeout of Trout to end it. Don’t look now, but the beleaguered Rays bullpen has given up just one run in the last 14-2/3 innings.
The New What Next
The Rays and Angels will play the second game of three on Saturday. Alex Cobb (7-6, 3.75 ERA, 4.12 FIP) gets the start opposite Jesse Chavez (5-10, 4.99 ERA, 5.25 FIP).
Cobb was brilliant over 7-2/3 innings, relinquishing just two singles, while not allowing a runner beyond first. He struck out three. The right-hander didn’t have his whiffy stuff, although the split-change (the Thing) was more prevalent this time than last — throwing it for strikes 11 of 19 times, with four swings-and-misses. The Thing had a decent 6.68 inches of break, which is a positive, although he relied heavily on his fastball and knuckle-curve to great effect. Cobb used his repertoire to pitch to contact and miss barrels. His two best outings of the season have come over his last three starts.
Chavez allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks over five innings in his last start, absorbing the loss Saturday against Texas. He struck out six. This season, he has relied primarily upon a kitchen sink repertoire of pitches — a 92 mph four-seam fastball and an explosive 91 mph cutter, while also mixing in a firm 86 mph changeup with arm side fade, a 92 mph two-seam fastball/sinker that results in a fair number of fly balls, an 84 mph worm-burner of a slider, and a 77 mph curveball with slight glove-side movement. The 33 year-old right-hander is 0-1 with a 3.52 ERA in eight appearances (one start) against the Rays. Key Matchups: Taylor Featherston (2-2), Logan Morrison (6-19, 3 HR, 3 HR, 7 RBI), Jesus Sucre (2-7)
Rays 7/15/17 Starting Lineup
— At 13-8 since June 8 (a .619 clip), the Rays have improved their odds of a postseason berth from 25% to 36.2% (per FanGraphs). Since it will likely take somewhere between 87 and 90 wins to earn a spot in the postseason, Tampa Bay will have to win 40 of the remaining 71 games; i.e. the Rays would have to perform at a .563 clip, which is feasible if they can continue to rack up series wins.
— By way of BaseRuns, the Rays should have an overall 50-41 record — one prospective win better than the AL East leading Boston Red Sox.