I had another photo lined up, however, this one completely encapsulates all the feelings following last night’s walk-off win. (Photo Credit: Tampa Bay Rays)

A strike away from a third consecutive loss, Tampa Bay snapped a brief losing skid when Taylor Walls lined a two-strike, two-out, three-run blast off the right-field fair pole, as the Rays walked it off against the Cardinals on Tuesday, 4-2.

At 32-23 on the season, the Rays enter play nine games over .500.

Jeffrey Springs got the start on Tuesday and struck out five in six shutout innings while allowing six hits and two walks on 92 pitches (65% strike rate). While Springs allowed baserunners in each inning, he managed to pitch around trouble and hold the Cardinals scoreless. He was also relatively efficient, averaging 15 pitches per inning. Springs has excelled since moving into a starting role, compiling a 1.62 ERA and 3.25 ERA, with a 4.50 K/BB, and a 0.92 WHIP across 44.1 innings of work.

Meanwhile, the Rays were limited to two total base runners into the seventh inning, when they finally scratched across a run.

Manuel Margot sparked the rally against starter Dakota Hudson when he doubled to left-center, then went to third on a groundout by Kevin Kiermaier. He eventually crossed the plate on a deep sacrifice fly to left-center by Isaac Paredes.

Yet, just as quickly as Tampa Bay took the lead, that advantage dissolved into the ephemera in the eighth inning against right-hander Andrew Kittredge. The right-hander allowed a two-out walk to Lars Nootbar before Tyler O’Neill and Harrison Bader singled to tie the contest.

Nootbar struck again in extras, hitting a sac fly in the tenth for a 2-1 lead. The game stayed a one-run contest, in part, because Kiermaier threw out Paul Goldschmidt at the plate on Bader’s single to centerfield. It was his first assist of the season.

Down by a run, Paredes walked to start the tenth inning against former Tigers’ hurler Drew VerHagen. After Nolan Arenado made a terrific play on a potential sacrifice bunt by Brett Phillips, turning it into a 5-6 fielder’s choice at third, pinch hitter Yandy Diaz popped out for the second out of the frame. With two on and two out, Walls worked the count even, then pulled a ball down the right-field line and off the foul pole for his third homer of the season, and the walk-off win.

The New What Next

Corey Kluber (2-2, 3.73 ERA) will get the start on Wednesday, pitching opposite Packy Naughton (0-1, 3.09 ERA).

Corey Kluber allowed one earned run on four hits and no walks while striking out four across six innings on Thursday against the Rangers. Kluber held the Rangers off the scoreboard until he surrendered a sixth-inning solo shot to Marcus Semien. Though an eight-run outing against the Angels on May 10 bloats his overall line, Kluber has allowed two earned runs or fewer in eight of his 10 starts this season. He’s particularly shown excellent control by surrendering only eight walks across 50.2 frames. All told, Kluber maintains a solid 3.73 ERA and 3.57 FIP, with a 1.13 WHIP, and a 5.75 K/BB on the season. He is 1-1 with a 5.59 ERA in two career starts against the Cardinals.

Packy Naughton allowed one run on two hits as the opener on May 30, his last outing, against the Padres. He struck out four across 2.1 frames. The 26-year-old southpaw worked through two scoreless frames before he was charged with a run on Jurickson Profar’s RBI single off of Andre Pallante in the third. Naughton maintains a 3.09 ERA and a 3.57 FIP, with a 12.00 K/BB, and a 1.11 WHIP through 11.2 frames on the season. As Neil Solondz writes, his season-high is 57 pitches and 3.1 innings (May 10th), when he allowed three runs against Baltimore. So it’s likely this will be a bullpen day essentially for St Louis. Naughton relies primarily on a whiffy 92 mph four-seam fastball that has some natural sinking action, a firm 84 mph changeup that has some natural sink to it, a 92 mph sinker, and an 80 mph slider that has some two-plane movement.

You can read about the series in our preview, while the starting lineup is below.

Rays 6/8/22 Starting Lineup

  1. Margot RF
  2. Ramirez DH
  3. Choi 1B
  4. Diaz 3B
  5. Arozarena LF
  6. Brujan 2B
  7. Mejia C
  8. Kiermaier CF
  9. Walls SS