Boston’s Renfroe comes back to haunt Rays

by Gary Shelton on September 9, 2021

in general

Wendle thrown out at third to end the game./CHUCK MULLER

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Just asking, but is it too late for the Tampa Bay Rays to rethink that decision to designate Hunter Renfroe for assignment last November?

Renfroe, who left after an abysmal season a year ago, has taken his revenge this year, but never more than Wednesday night.

Renfroe hit a two-run homer in the eighth and threw two Rays out on the base paths to preserve a 2-1 win for Boston over Tampa Bay. The game ended when Renfroe threw out Joey Wendle as he tried to stretch a double into a triple.

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It was a dramatic finish to the game, leaving Rays' fans to wonder if Wendle should have tried to reach third (a cardinal rule in baseball is to never make the last out at third). Earlier in the game, Renfroe had thrown Manuel Margot out at second as he tried to stretch a single into a double.

It hardly resembled the Renfroe that Rays' fans knew last year. That Renfroe hit .156 with eight homers. This Renfroe is hitting .267 with 27 homers.

"Renfroe had a pretty good day today," Rays' manager Kevin Cash said. "We know he’s got a heck of an arm. Joey’s putting pressure on the defense. I don’t know if (Renfroe) is standing and practicing over and over if  if he could have made a better throw. We know he’s talented or sure. Getting to third helps if there is any chance if the ball gets by the catcher on the next at-bat, so no fault whatsoever. You tip your hat to Hunter for what he did at the plate and for that."

The Rays had taken a 1-0 lead in the top of the eighth when Nelson Cruz singled in Brandon Lowe, who had two hits.

Wander Franco drew a walk in the eighth, extending his on-base streak to 38 games, five behind Frank Robinson of the Reds among players 20 years old and younger.

The Rays are now nine games ahead of Boston in the AL East and 9 1/2 ahead of New York.

The Rays now travel to Detroit for a three-game series. Michael Wacha of the Rays is expected to start against Matthew Boyd on Friday night at 7:10 p.m.

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