Mejia leads Rays to victory over Boston

by Gary Shelton on July 13, 2022

in general

Wednesday, 4 a.m.

Yes, there is a new catcher in town for the Tampa Bay Rays.

No, that doesn't mean it's time to throw Frankie Mejia away.

With newly acquired Christian Bethancourt starting, Mejia came off the bench to star in the Rays' 3-2 victory over the Boston Red Sox Tuesday night, a win that enabled the Rays to take over second place in the AL East race.

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Mejia drove in the Rays' first run and scored the winning run. His biggest play, however, came in the top of the seventh inning. The Red Sox were mounting a threat with runners on first and third with no one out.

But Mejia picked Alex Verdugo off of third, and the Red Sox threat was snuffed.

“He and (pitcher Corey) Kluber were the players of the day," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "The pickoff, the pinch hit and the blocks throughout the game.

"He’s really calm. Emotionally, the intensity doesn’t affect him. He’s himself. He’s calm behind the plate when he’s not doing anything for six innings."

The win went to Kluber, who is now 5-5. He went six innings and allowed just four hits.

He had some bad luck in the fifth, however. Verdugo and Jeter Downs had soft singles to open the inning. After a bunt by Franchy Cordero scored one run, Bobby Dalbec hit a fly to left-center that Rays' centerfielder Brett Phillips overran, then missed when he tried to reach back for the ball.

"Two bloop hits and then Dalbec’s fly ball," Cash summed up. "I’d like to think we’re going to catch that ball more times than not."

If that was a break for Boston, the Red Sox gave it right back up in the sixth. With Harold Ramirez on base with an infield hit and Isaac Paredes walking, the Rays decided to pinch hit Mejia for Ji-Man Choi, who would have been facing a left-handed pitcher. With a 1-1 count, Mejia singled up the middle for the Rays first run.

Then came Taylor Walls, who lined a shot back to pitcher Matt Strahm. Strahm spun and located the ball, then threw wildly past first to allow one run in. Cordero then threw the ball past home, allowing Mejia to score.

Jalen Beeks (with help from Mejia's pick-off play) threw two scoreless innings and Brooks Raley threw one to close out the win.

The Rays and Red Sox play again tonight at 7:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Shane McClanahan will start for the Rays against Josh Winckowski.

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