Improbable hero leads improbable comeback

by Gary Shelton on June 8, 2022

in general

Wednesday, 3 a.m.

In the aftermath of a miracle, the question remains:

Was the Tampa Bay Rays comeback on Tuesday night more improbable? Or was it the guy who starred in it?

Light-hitting Taylor Walls, down to his last strike, belted a three-run homer to lift the Rays to a 4-2, 10-inning victory over the St. Louis Cardinals, the team's 10th come-from-behind victory of the season.

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The comeback was impressive enough, but who would have bet on Walls to be the catalyst? Walls was hitting only .147, third lowest in the league, when he stepped to the plate. But he drove a 2-2 pitch down the right field line and boinked it off of the foul pole for the victory. The image of him on the first-base line, leaning to his left to will the ball to stay fair, will be a lasting image for this team.

"I  was going to be so mad if that ball does’t stay fair," Walls said afterward. "I felt like I rounded the bases in a second."

Walls; hit was just the team's third of the night, and it was the highlight of an eventful extra inning battle that featured Colin Poche pitching out of a bases-loaded situation, the Cardinals' Nolan Arenado making a sensation play on a bunt attempt and Kevin Kiermaier throwing out Paul Goldschmidt at the plate.

"You feel good for Wallsy," said Rays' manager Kevin Cash. "Any of these guys who have been scuffling a little bti to come up wit a big hit like that and ultimately win a game ... that has to be a good feeling for him."

The Rays were in the game only because of a strong start by Jeffrey Springs, who threw six shutout innings. But the Cardinals tied the game in the eighth to force extra innings.

Kiermaier's throw might be the understated highlight of the game.

"Great throw by K.K.," said Cash. "We know what he can do defensively. It was game changing. K.K. can do some really spectacular things out there."

The Rays play the Cardinals again tonight at 7:10 p.m. at Tropicana Field. Corey Kluber will start for the Rays. The Cardinals have not announced their starter.

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