Rays play 18 innings before salvaging win against Twins

by Gary Shelton on June 28, 2019 · 0 comments

in general, Tampa Bay Rays

Yarbrough closed out the game for his 7th win./JEFFREY S. KING

Friday, 3 a.m.

For the Tampa Bay Rays, it took forever to win a baseball game. As rarely as that happens anymore, it was worth it.

The Rays played for five hours and 42 minutes Thursday. They played for 18 innings  — two games worth — and used nine pitchers. Some of their hitters had very, very long afternoons (Avi Garcia, for instance, was 0-for-8).

Still, the Rays won. After losing two straight, and six of their previous eight games, it was somewhat of a relief.

“We got to the point where we’ll take any win however we get them,” said Rays’ manager Kevin Cash. “That was a challenge.”

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Diaz drove in the winning run with a sacrifice./CHUCK MULLER

Responding particularly to that challenge was the Rays maligned bullpen, which has been wobbly as of late. But the Rays shut out Minnesota for the final 17 innings Thursday to win. Ryan Yarbrough threw the last three innings, getting five of the team’s 22 strikeouts by its pitchers, to go to 7-3.

“If you like to watch pitching, you got see a lot of really, really good pitching,” Cash said. “From the first or second inning on. The mixing and matching of every pitcher on both sides. We had one other big inning  (the 10th, when the Rays loaded the bases with no one out but failed to score).”

The Rays tied the game at 2-2 Thursday, and then both teams began to deal zeroes. The Rays finally scored on a sacrifice fly by Yandy Diaz (who barely scored Brandon Lowe) and singles by Willy Adames and Ji-Man Choi.

Tampa Bay is 11-14 through June, but they continue to play shaky baseball. For instance, after May, the Rays were fourth in the major leagues in run differential. In June, they’re tied for 19th. They were first in ERA, in starters’ ERA and third in the bullpen ERA. This month, they’re 14th in ERA and starters’ ERA and 11th in the bullpen ERA.

They’ve trailed in 14 of their last 15 games, and by multiple runs in 12 of 15.

The Rays are now a major-league best 34-25 in games decided by three or more runs.

Tampa Bay now returns to Tropicana Field to face the Texas Rangers, a team on their heels in the wild-card chase. Tonight’s game time is 7:05 p.m. The Rays will start Yonny Chirinos against Lance Lynn.

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