Franco picks up Rays with walk-off homer

by Gary Shelton on August 12, 2023

in general

Franco's home run lifted Rays./TIM WIRT

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Perhaps it was worth all of the ugliness.

Perhaps it was worth watching Pete Fairbanks forget how to throw a strike. Perhaps it was worth blowing a  three-run lead in the ninth. Perhaps it was worth the three errors. Perhaps it was worth perhaps the worst closing effort in Rays’ memory.

When Wander Franco connected, sending the ball into the night, it erased a night of frustration for the Tampa Bay Rays. On the third pitch he saw, Franco launched his 17th one run, 411 feet into the right field stands for his first-ever walkoff hit. It gave the Rays a 9-8 victory over Cleveland.

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Oh, you probably don’t want to talk about how the Rays got to the bottom of the ninth. They led 8-5, and Fairbanks, the team leader with 15 saves, was on the mound. But Fairbanks walked three batters, hit one and threw two wild pitches. Robert Stephenson had to come on to get the final out, but only after his own wild pitch allowed the run to score. The Guardians scored their three runs without a hit.

It evened things up. The Rays had scored three times without a hit in the seventh inning (three walks and an error).

Franco struggled in July, hitting just .202. In August, he is hitting .486.

He drove in three of his 58 RBI on the season on Friday night.

The Rays got two hits out of Yandy Diaz. Isaac Paredes hit his 23rd home run to tie for the team’s lead.

The Rays  play against Cleveland today at Tropicana Field at 4:10 p.m. The Rays have not announced their starting pitcher. Cleveland will start Gavin Williams.

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