It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way…
— Charles Dickens, “A Tale of Two Cities”
Wow. I think Dickens’ quote above sums up Wednesday night’s game well. The Rays eked out a huge 4-3 win in extra innings last night, in a game that looked like a lost cause from the get go. The Rangers three runs can be attributed to defensive mishaps, while Tampa Bay seemed offensively strapped all night. The players you expect to produce didn’t, while those who’ve had a rough go at things carried the Rays. If you would have told me that the 2-through-5 hitters (Ben Zobrist, Evan Longoria, Wil Myers, and Delmon Young) would have gone 2-17 with a run, while Desmond Jennings, David DeJesus and Sean Rodriguez would go 6-10 and carry the team to a victory, I’d have laughed in your face. But low and behold that was the case, and Tampa Bay walked away with an important victory which put them right back on top of the Wildcard heap with one game left to go against the Rangers.
Rays starter Chris Archer labored early on, but he kept the Rays in the thick of things after surrendering just two runs over six innings — both coming on a two-out fly ball to centerfield that carried over Jennings’ head. The Rays center fielder initially broke in on the on the play that was ultimately ruled a two-RBI triple for Leonys Martin. Jennings should have made the play to end the second, and the Rangers should have walked away with a goose egg in the inning. Instead, Texas took an early 2-0 lead.
Meanwhile Derek Holland was on fire, retiring the first seven batters in order, and not allowing a base runner until Jose Molina tagged him for a single in the third inning. The Dutch Oven held the Rays in check throughout the front five before he got himself into trouble in the sixth inning when Wil Myers singled on a ground-ball to left with one out. The Rays lefty killer Demon Young was next, though he almost negated himself when he grounded into what should have been a sure-fire double play. Thankfully Jurickson Profar’s rushed throw to first pulled Mitch Moreland off the bag, and allowed Young to reach safely. Sean Rodriguez made Holland pay, launching a game-tying blast to left field just two pitches later.
The game remained tied into extra innings. Joel Peralta, Jake McGee, Fernando Rodney and Jamey Wright all posted scoreless outings, yet the offense couldn’t put anything together against the four Rangers relievers. With the game tied in the 11th, Roberto Hernandez took the bump and quickly retired Ian Kinsler. However, his night was over as quick as it began after he plunked the speedy Elvis Andrus. Joe Maddon pulled Hernandez in favor of Alex Torres who got Alex Rios to pop out. With two outs and a runner at first, Adrian Beltre dropped an RBI single in to right field. A lackadaisical effort on the part of Wil Myers allowed Andrus to score from first base. Myers showed absolutely no urgency in getting the ball in quickly, giving the Rangers a one-run advantage and setting up the Rays for a costly defeat. The Rays tied the game in the bottom of the 11th, and the Rangers threatened again in the 12th. Brandon Gomes came in to quell the RISP storm. Onward to the bottom of the inning.
Jose Lobaton lead off the inning with a single*, and was instantly pinched in favor of the speedy Sam Fuld. Yunel Escobar was next, playing the part of the gambler and laying down a beautiful 1-2 sac-bunt, moving Fuld into scoring position. His gamble would pay dividends when Desmond Jennings sent a line drive single to the other way, plating a sliding Sam Fuld for a dramatic victory.
The New What Next
The Rays start the day with sole possession of the top Wildcard spot, ahead of Cleveland by a game and a hal, and two ahead of the Orioles. A Rays win against Yu Darvish will earn the tiebreaker over Texas — assuming both teams stay relevant after this series. Tampa Bay will counter with Matt Moore. You can read about the pitching match-up here.
Rays 9/19/13 Starting Lineup
- Yes, you read that correctly, Longoria is the resident DH tonight, while Kelly Johnson gets the start at third.
- Where Myers and Jennings geeked a pair of plays, Sean Rodriguez made an outstanding diving play to Rob the Rangers of a single in the ninth.
- The addition of Freddie Guzman has already paid off. Guzman was put in the game in the 11th inning, pinch running for Matt Joyce who reached on a walk. Guzman stole second, then was driven home on a David DeJesus single to right.
*Why in god’s name Maddon pinched Molina in favor of Luke Scott, is beyond me. A lefty-on-lefty match-up? Really?! Why not put someone (cough, Lobaton) into the game who’s actually been productive? One only needs to look at what he did in the 12th for evidence as much.